Our story started when a little boy was inspired by his grandfather Rex, the original artisan with talents in carpentry, gardening, dressmaking, building and more. Glenn was always a keen cook throughout his years in the City, but then took the plunge to learn how to bake at the Artisan School of Food and by apprenticing at a fabulous real bread bakery himself. He started baking bread for a community following initially from the family home garage, which led to opening the Little Chalfont shop in 2014. This continued to grow over the years, adding in wholesale delivery to discerning eateries and shops around Bucks, Berks and Herts.
When 2020 and the pandemic hit, it became apparent that customers have rediscovered a passion for shopping locally, eating healthily and supporting independent businesses. With this in mind, the Rex Bakery family looked to see where a second shop close to our Chilterns base could be opened. Our family has always loved Windsor. We think it is the most beautiful town – fortunate to be on the Thames, with the Castle and blessed with a stunning main shopping street. Visitors and residents alike always look happy! A favourite destination of ours over the years for pantomime, a mooch, a run or to shop for something special. We are proud to supply a couple of great food businesses in the area – the Organic Bread Shop and Millar’s Eatery so feel part of the scene already.
What has always surprised us is how under-served Windsor foodies are. There really aren’t many places that you can go for a truly gourmet sandwich, real food (simple whole ingredient, largely unprocessed, additive-free) or specialty coffee. If you don’t want to waste good calories on bad bread, your options are limited. We have learnt from our market research that Windsor residents care about their health, feel frustrated by the mostly chain food outlet options in their town and are hoping for a little more variety on their high street.
We found what used to be Mai’s Images Nail Bar, and back in the day was a women’s fashion shop (when it was still a traffic route, I have 2 now practically vintage blouses bought from there!) and previously a furniture store. It had become run down, abandoned by the nail bar staff at the start of the pandemic and in a state of significant disrepair requiring leak-proofing, new plumbing, heating, window repair and more. It had an abandoned wasteland behind it and leaking aircon units from another nearby property trespassing on its back wall!
This is a good news story about a Windsor landlord who wants to preserve their property for generations to come, and has updated the property’s five floors from head to toe, and worked with us to pave the way for a beautiful new shop open to the public on the ground floor with new restored back courtyard access, and first floor for inside dining when allowed again.
Many passers-by have asked us why that precise shop when there are so many empty ones up & down the high street. The first & most important answer is that we think the building is one of the most handsome in all of the Windsor shopping area. Just take a look up at it, it is registered as a building of special architectural interest yet it’s not a listed building which makes it far easier! We loved it rightaway and immediately felt it could be a warm home to Windsor’s newest independent family bakery. The back courtyard will be a huge bonus to the property too, it means we can welcome dogs!
Second, the price was right for us. Most of Windsor shopping area has a few big landlords (including the Crown Estate!) but since we started talking in Summer 2020, JIsaacs Management and their estate agents Deriaz Campsie felt we could bring something special to Windsor, saw our potential and vision, and sought to achieve win-win value. Third, we did want to be convenient for residents walking from home as well as accessible to national tourists who won’t venture too far down from the station and castle area. 46 Peascod Street is perfectly located for all of that.
It’s been quite a painful drawn-out process since the decision was made, however. It’s difficult for a small business to negotiate the pre-planning and planning and licenses – this is still very much a work in progress! Lockdowns have impeded progress twice. Whilst an essential food business could stay open throughout the pandemic, we didn’t feel that it was appropriate to open a new shop before restrictions began to ease somewhat.
As a food-first business, we will be producing delicious baked products in Windsor and we needed to equip a catering kitchen as well as secure 3-phase electricity to cope with our equipment. This has been particularly difficult to do without spending a fortune and taking forever – the latest excavations right outside our shop are unfortunately costing us thousands and are already many weeks overdue. The latest is that SSE’s contractor who was supposed to complete works by the end of March, has been granted an extended highways licence by the council, to leave a gaping hole right outside our new shop until 13th April! This will have an impact on how much we can make, and our sign-makers can’t complete their works either!
Finally we needed to find staff who are passionate about our product, serving customers in the right way and preferably local given parking challenges! This took a time but we are really excited about the new talented team ready to welcome you to Rex. You can be the judges of how well we are serving you, please come and visit us from Easter Monday onwards when we plan to open our doors for the first time to the Windsor public. Let us know what you think in the comments, follow us on our Windsor Instagram page here, or leave a Google review if you’re pleased with the experience. A big thank you in advance to lovely Windsor!