Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
Cloudy
70°
Cloudy
Hi 71° | Lo 59°

Tart Baking Co. open at site of former Bakery Normand

  • <br/>left Alex Culliton, the cafe manager, Mukunda Feldman, owner and Brian Meunier, the head baker at Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton  Monday morning. <br/><br/><br/><br/>


    left Alex Culliton, the cafe manager, Mukunda Feldman, owner and Brian Meunier, the head baker at Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton Monday morning.



    Purchase photo reprints »

  • A coffee made at  Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton  Monday morning. <br/><br/><br/><br/>

    A coffee made at Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton Monday morning.



    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Ham and Gruyere baguette made at Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton  Monday morning. <br/><br/><br/><br/>

    Ham and Gruyere baguette made at Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton Monday morning.



    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton  Monday morning. <br/><br/><br/><br/>

    Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton Monday morning.



    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Brian Meunier, the head baker atTart Baking Company on Main street Northampton  makes Pain de Campagne Monday morning. <br/><br/><br/><br/>

    Brian Meunier, the head baker atTart Baking Company on Main street Northampton makes Pain de Campagne Monday morning.



    Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>Mukunda Feldman, owner of Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton in the store Monday morning. <br/>


    Mukunda Feldman, owner of Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton in the store Monday morning.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Brian Meunier, the head baker at Tart Baking Co. in Northampton, makes  pain de campagne, or French country bread. Tart Baking opened this fall in the Main Street space formerly occupied by Bakery Normand, whose owners decided to retire and close the business.

    Brian Meunier, the head baker at Tart Baking Co. in Northampton, makes pain de campagne, or French country bread. Tart Baking opened this fall in the Main Street space formerly occupied by Bakery Normand, whose owners decided to retire and close the business. Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>Brian Meunier, the head baker at Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton takes meat pies out of the oven Monday morning. <br/><br/><br/><br/>


    Brian Meunier, the head baker at Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton takes meat pies out of the oven Monday morning.



    Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>Brian Meunier, the head baker at Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton takes meat pies out of the oven Monday morning. <br/><br/><br/><br/><br/>


    Brian Meunier, the head baker at Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton takes meat pies out of the oven Monday morning.




    Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>Bakery boxes at Tart Baking company on Main Street Northampton. <br/>


    Bakery boxes at Tart Baking company on Main Street Northampton.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>left Alex Culliton, the cafe manager, Mukunda Feldman, owner and Brian Meunier, the head baker at Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton  Monday morning. <br/><br/><br/><br/>
  • A coffee made at  Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton  Monday morning. <br/><br/><br/><br/>
  • Ham and Gruyere baguette made at Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton  Monday morning. <br/><br/><br/><br/>
  • Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton  Monday morning. <br/><br/><br/><br/>
  • Brian Meunier, the head baker atTart Baking Company on Main street Northampton  makes Pain de Campagne Monday morning. <br/><br/><br/><br/>
  • <br/>Mukunda Feldman, owner of Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton in the store Monday morning. <br/>
  • Brian Meunier, the head baker at Tart Baking Co. in Northampton, makes  pain de campagne, or French country bread. Tart Baking opened this fall in the Main Street space formerly occupied by Bakery Normand, whose owners decided to retire and close the business.
  • <br/>Brian Meunier, the head baker at Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton takes meat pies out of the oven Monday morning. <br/><br/><br/><br/>
  • <br/>Brian Meunier, the head baker at Tart Baking Company on Main street Northampton takes meat pies out of the oven Monday morning. <br/><br/><br/><br/><br/>
  • <br/>Bakery boxes at Tart Baking company on Main Street Northampton. <br/>

Patrons of the former Bakery Normand won’t have to look far for another bakery. The Tart Baking Co. opened its doors this month in the same 192 Main St. storefront that just a few months ago was home to the business owned by and operated by Robert and Patricia Normand for 33 years.

The new bakery is owned by Mukunda Feldman, who is also the owner of three coffee shops, Northampton Coffee, Amherst Coffee and Greenfield Coffee. Feldman, 33, lives in Easthampton.

The other shops do not do any baking, and Feldman said he is excited about his first foray into the bakery business.

“Lucky for everyone, I won’t be doing the baking,” he joked. “All this is really made possible because of the talent of our head baker, Brian.”

Brian Meunier, of Shelburne Falls, previously was a baker at a Brookline bakery called Clear Flour Bread for 10 years, Feldman said.

A week before the new bakery opened Nov. 7 at the top of Crafts Avenue, the shop was already sweet with the scent of pear galettes and Meunier was kneading bread dough in the kitchen with a few of the bakery’s 10 new employees, working a mix of full- and part-time positions.

Feldman said his decision to open the business was influenced by what he called a “collective desire to see some kind of bakery continue to exist here.” It was a desire he said he shared with the building’s new owner, Jordi Herold, and the Normands, whom he knew because he used to frequent their bakery.

Herold said he had been “working hard” to find a bakery to fill the space. “Bakery Normand was there for 25 years and part of the fabric of the downtown for over 30 years,” he said. “One of the things that gives Northampton its character is having things like specialty bakeries in the downtown.”

He said he was “ecstatic” when Feldman approached him about leasing it. “I knew Mukunda from his other coffee shops,” he said. “He’s a great business person and a great soul.”

Feldman said he felt like the space was his chance to break into baking. “It’s a really fun project,” he said. “It’s also an exciting opportunity to sell retail coffee on Main Street, which we haven’t been able to do before.”

He is a managing partner at the Lee-based Barrington Coffee Roasting Company, which provides the coffee at his shops, and is also a part owner in a coffee shop in Boston under the same name.

A passion for coffee

Feldman grew up in Great Barrington and got his first job in a Lenox coffee shop when he was 16. “I just fell in love with coffee,” he said. “From there, I got a job with the Barrington Coffee Roasting Company. They taught me how to roast coffee and that began my eight- or nine-year love affair with roasting coffee.”

He moved to the Pioneer Valley in 2002 to work on a business degree at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, though he didn’t finish. Instead, that same year, he opened his first shop, Northampton Coffee on Pleasant Street, with a few partners.

“I opened the shop because I love coffee and coffee shop culture. I wanted to make a beautiful place for people to drink beautiful coffee,” he said.

Running Northampton Coffee made him realize how much he liked working with and training staff and passing on his love for an exquisite cup of joe. “That really compelled me to grow, so I could work with and employ more people,” he said.

He opened Amherst Coffee, which also has a cocktail bar, in 2005, and Greenfield Coffee, in 2010. The Boston shop opened in 2011.

He estimates that his five shops employ between 50 and 60 people.

Coffee, pastries and more

Feldman said that under Meunier’s leadership, the new bakery will turn out fresh pastries, croissants and scones in the morning, followed by lunch items such as sandwiches and ham-and-cheese baguettes.

“In the afternoon, we’ll get the bread out, so you can pick up hot, fresh bread on your way home from work,” he said.

He hopes that eventually, the Tart Baking Co. will be able to supply pastries to all his local shops.

Not surprisingly, considering Feldman’s feelings about coffee, the bakery offers regular joe and a full espresso bar, as well as bags of coffee to take home.

Unlike his other shops, the Tart Baking Co. is more geared toward takeout, so it does not have seating. For people looking to grab a quick bite in-store, it does have counters and a large, brightly painted table. It is made from a traditional painted oxcart wheel Feldman said was sent to the coffee company by a Costa Rican coffee bean farmer.

It did not take too much work to get the space ready for business because the shop was already set up as a bakery, he said.

“We’ve kept a lot of things the same,” Feldman said. “It’s a little nod to what was here, but we also made it our own.”

He said he wasn’t sure how much the opening cost yet, because bills are still coming in, and he declined to estimate, but he said a business loan from Greenfield Savings Bank made it possible.

He said the only hiccup in preparing the store to open was when the delivery of lights was delayed a few days by Hurricane Sandy.

For now, he will be spending most of his at the Tart Baking Co., but he said he is always “bouncing around” between his shops in the Pioneer Valley and Boston and the roasting company.

“I have a really awesome crew to work with, so that helps,” he said.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

Comments
Legacy Comments1

What a great success story. How fortunate are we to have local entrepreneurs of this caliber? I've only been to the three coffee shops, and those are all full of life, and each have their own particular vibe. Amherst Coffee is a very cool place to get a cocktail in the evening too. They have an eclectic whiskey menu, and the bartenders are knowledgable and professional. It's pretty cool to have a drink or two in a different type of space with a different type of clientele.

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.