So I heard from John Murden of Church Hill People’s News that there was a new Manchester baking company selling baked goods at Union Market. I had never come across them, but was intrigued. After some detective work, I found my way to Greta Phillips and Alex Miller. Greta and Alex are the couple behind Lecker Baking Company.
Greta encouraged me to try a soft pretzel with a beer for happy hour at Union Market. I did, and it was delicious! So I followed up with an interview. Here is what they had to say about their new bakery business.
When was Lecker Baking Company started?
We established the LLC in May of 2015. However, this was just when we really started exploring whether or not we could REALLY quit our jobs and make a living baking. In January of 2016 we obtained space in a commissary kitchen off of Hull Street (The Bearded Beauties Commissary), and in February we made our first delivery to Rostov’s Coffee and Tea in the Fan-our first official customer-followed very quickly by Union Market in Church Hill.
What did you do before Lecker Baking Company?
Greta: I have been a Human Resources professional for the last 20 years or so. However for the last 16, since my son was born, I have primarily focused on recruiting, first in the manufacturing world then later in the securities industry.
Alex: My background includes manufacturing, sales and marketing, and I currently work in IT as well as helping Greta get the business off the ground.
Where are you from originally?
Greta is from Wilmington, NC and Alex is from Hickory, NC.
What type of baked goods do you offer?
Currently we offer muffins, cookies, shortbread, and traditional soft Bavarian pretzels. Our desire is to continue to expand to include pastries and European style artisan bread. Look for croissants and some other specialty breads to be in the market soon.
What are you most proud of in terms of getting started?
Always taking one more step forward toward the goal. It’s been a two-year process of training and baking and testing and finally taking the plunge and just doing it. With 3 teenagers it has taken a lot of questioning as to whether this is the right time in our lives to make this dream a reality.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
For Alex, it’s probably been trying to juggle a full time job and getting the business off the ground. Getting our name out there and convincing our customers to take the risk of providing a fresh daily product to their customers. Since we use only high quality ingredients and no preservatives the shelf life of baked goods is limited – especially the pretzel. But what is better than a freshly made pretzel delivered to the market or the brewhouse late in the afternoon to have along with a beer at happy hour?
Why did you select Manchester to get started?
Manchester kind of selected us! We had been looking for a retail spot to open a bakery and were primarily looking in 4 areas of Richmond – Downtown, The Fan, Scott’s Addition and Manchester. However, we couldn’t find the right size place at the right price to establish our business. So we took a step back and decided to begin primarily wholesale, with a limited product line and bake out of a commissary kitchen. Luckily we found the Bearded Beauties and were able to secure space in their location to get started.
We hear you are looking for a Retail storefront. Do you see that complementing your wholesale business, or being your focus?
We see it as complementing the wholesale business. We want to have a neighborhood bakery where folks can walk in and pick up a loaf of bread for dinner, or a pastry for breakfast, or a cookie, well, just because everyone needs a cookie! But we also want to provide an option for restaurants and markets who are looking for locally made, high quality specialty breads made with superior ingredients at a fair price.
What’s your favorite baked good?
Greta: I can only choose one???? If so then I think I would have to choose bread. However, if you make me limit that to one then I don’t think it’s possible and I would be likely to say whatever loaf I had most recently eaten – which today would be Sesame Semolina bread. But tomorrow, I might change it to German Farmers Bread. Then perhaps the 100% Rye Pullman Loaf. 🙂
Alex: I’m with Greta that it’s the variety of breads that is so enticing. Put a spoonful of flour in your mouth. Pretty awful! However, that same flour with a little care, can be teased and coaxed to express itself in ways that produce such a breadth of complexity. If I had to pick one, it would be a 100% rye Vollkornbrot as the Germans call it.
Anything else you would like to share?
The name Lecker Baking Company: We struggled for a long time on naming the bakery. Alex has a half-sister in Germany, and one of the words they use often to describe delicious food is “Lecker,” or “Lecker Schmecker” and the name was born along with our tag line – “Lecker” – it’s German for Yum.