Even when he was still a City boy, the Rex Baker always said that what was really missing from our local village was a decent bakery.
So it was a huge relief to finally officially raise the Rex Artisan Bakery shutters & open our doors at 8am on Saturday 29th March! A relief to us as we enjoyed the warmest welcome imaginable from Little Chalfont – thank you so much!! But also, we think, a relief to the many local folks who said they too had genuinely been waiting for an Artisan Bakery just like us.
We are overjoyed with the strong support of neighbours, dear friends & family and regular pop-up visitors this past week– all of whom seemed delighted with the reality of the shop interior after patiently persevering with home deliveries, Westwood Park pop up & the pick up point under a black marquee in a building site for many months now! People liked the Rex Baker’s choice of decor, the use of oak, even his inspiration of the scaffolding for the shelves! And really liked being able to see through the window to the working bakery, which was always our plan. We all agreed that this was a little more like it….
But it was overwhelming to experience the warm welcome from so many new Friends out there, and almost bemusing how many times we had to reassure brand new customers that Yes, this was all home-made & baked right there, by a local team, with as best quality, few, local & organic ingredients as possible, on the premises, that morning. We do understand the doubts. The branding (thanks to @Rick, design guru & U8 coach at Westwood Park FC) all looks so professional that many fear our shop might be stocked by some kind of “artisanal-style” factory or commercial chain. We’ve blogged before here & here about all the confusing claims out there in the world of food & bakeries, it’s really not easy to trust what you’re buying & eating.
So in case you are wondering –
- Yes, we truly are a local family putting our all into this 1st Rex Bakery ourselves
- Yes, everything really is home-made on the premises
- Yes, we really do source the best quality ingredients, local & organic where possible
The Rex Baker retrained to become an artisan baker because he believes in Real bread & values Real food and wants to bring that to our local community. Why not? Why shouldn’t we in Little Chalfont have the very best in baking?!
We also sold coffees for the 1st time ever, to lovely feedback. TBH, we have also thought and planned long & hard to make this special & something different – apart from sitting at your choice of a sociable refectory table or more private stools at the bar (or To go…), we have a talented barista, a great coffee machine & of course, amazing Monmouth coffee…
But as many of you will have noticed, we are still on a journey!!
Here are just a few of the challenges that we must address:
- The Gas engineers arrived on Friday to put right the latest Power-gate. Hooray! But left a huge gaping messy hole right in front of the shop, not to mention some horrible mess from traipsing up & down the shop all day….
- We had no Broadband, and no way to launch what is a pretty sophisticated Till system. That meant we are still using our trusty blue cash tin for payments, for the timebeing. Thank goodness for:
- a cash dispenser right outside of the shop. Although apparently it broke down on Saturday, hope that wasn’t due to over-use by Rex Friends!
- the Post Office next door who kindly swapped our notes for pound coins a heap of times. We need to be change-heavy!!
- Very kind Friends who didn’t seem to mind, indeed expected to pay only cash. Thank you!!
3. We ran out of bread by lunchtime. By lunchtime! Argh! We had originally planned to open 8am-4pm on a Saturday haha 🙂 We had joked about starting a book on what would be the last remaining item for sale, and given the Pop Up stall experience there was money on 1 of the Rye Breads (a “Marmite” loaf – people tend to absolutely love them or really dislike the more dense, complex & sophisticated tasting Rye Breads so popular in Germany & Eastern Europe). Instead, we sold out of every single loaf across the whole bakery range and only had a basket of Chocolate buns & Bath buns left after lunch – that would never have happened at the pop-up! We ALWAYS sold out of Buns 1st back then!! The Rex Bakery team’s families were left happy at least… some well-deserved yummy buns to share out at home. But we had to put down the shop shutters by 2pm – so sorry if you tried to visit us for bread in the afternoon 🙁
- This was the 1st time the bakers had produced 00s of kgs of dough in the working bakery. They certainly had issues – with extraction & smoke alarms; storage; working surfaces; the outputs of the mixer; methods & ways of working together… as one Friend joked, we need a Time & Motion study to perfect their processes. The bakers will gear up to produce a lot more breads in particular & planning is underway. We hope you enjoyed what was snapped up in the morning though…
- There’s also a lack of shop storage for display basket replenishment as we are waiting on shop shelving. There was probably more space for all the back-up bread boxes at the Pop Up, ironically! We are going to have to chase YET ANOTHER rather slow supplier to hurry up on those, this week, so please bear with us…
- No proper Click & Collect just yet. We are working hard to plan that Friends of Rex Bakery can order their Saturday pick-up choices & pay online in advance, so that baked items are put aside for you 1st thing in the morning & your bag is ready to be picked up in store without you joining the general queue. Of course you will be able to choose any available extras in addition, but at least you will know that we haven’t sold out of your favourites. So many people arrived to pick up their staple baguette or sausage roll only to be disappointed this Saturday – again so sorry!! In the meantime, if you know you need choices from our regular typical bake list for the coming Saturday – please do just email us here by Thursday night and we will try to put it aside for you.
7. As yet, there were no lunchtime pies or tarts, not even sandwiches…. A lot of requests but no real takeaway savoury treats as we had even sold out of the hugely popular Rex sausage rolls in a couple of hours (at a rate of more than double our previous Saturday record). We are looking forward to launching sandwiches at least in this coming week, for all our hungry local employees – we will be ready for you!!!!
And so on, and so on…. You probably noticed something you would have liked us to have sorted yourself. We are wide open to your ideas! Please comment below & tell us what you need from us to get better!
In the meantime, we really did love & sincerely appreciate all your unbelievably kind gifts, cards & comments – they make our day. Now the close-to-zero hours of sleep, the stress of the risks & the beyond-imaginable hard graft all do feel worthwhile, thank you SO SO much:
“we feel privileged to have a bakery like yours on our doorstep”
“…lovely to see a fantastic bakery opening, we will be regular visitors”
“..the shop looked great, coffee excellent. Congrats”
“Ciabatta was delicious”
“…loved them! It was lovely to try your amazing food”
“Congratulations! It’s now my girls’ favourite place!!”
Don’t forget, if you need some more love from us to make things better/ something put aside for Saturday, you are very special to us for wanting that so do email us here with your request/ order by Thursday night.
Otherwise, hope to see you this coming Saturday!