I can finally check “find bread” off my living local to-do list. For now, at least.
Great Harvest Bread Company is a fairly sprawling franchise, and so it sat initially out of my realm of consideration. But since I had been having a hard time finding local bread in a storefront and friends kept recommending it to me, I eventually gave in a decided to do some research.
I’m glad that I did. Though still not my mom-and-pop ideal, the company seems to run a very different sort of franchise, if the sweet talk on their site is to be believed. They're not cookie-cutter based; each franchise really does seem to do its own thing. Different breads, different ideas, different energies. I knew the bread in our area was good because I had tried it before at the farmers market that used to operate at George Mason University (which recently closed, sadly). Somehow, though, I’d never been in the Burke storefront despite it being a three-minute walk from my house.
From the second you walk in, you’re enveloped in the smell of fresh bread. A woman behind the counter immediately offered me a slice to try; the man working recommended I buy a honey wheat loaf to pair with the havarti cheese I had waiting for me at home. The walls were stocked with shelves of products including honeys, jams, syrups and olive oils. A central display showcased granola, oatmeal and bread mixes. I didn’t find out if all of it was local, mostly because I was ashamed I had taken so long to give them proper consideration, but most of it seemed to be.
They mill flour on the premises, can recite small ingredient lists for the items they bake and offer a rotating schedule of breads and sweet treats each week. It helps, too, that the people running the store are geniunely friendly and enthusiastic enough to make it seem like a mom-and-pop sort of affair rather than a large franchise.
My honey whole wheat bread made an excellent grilled cheese sandwich and I’m sure I’ll be enjoying a lot of toast slices this week. And while this may not be the winning bread solution for me in the long run, it’s nice to have found a sweet local option I can walk to for now (as opposed to driving to Vienna and Falls Church for everything).
Speaking of Falls Church, though, I did find a source for local donuts there. Bagels Deli & Donuts is tucked away in a shopping center, but despite their nondescript name and exterior they’ve been around for 17 years and make delicious, fresh donuts on the premises. The pumpkin ones are especially delicious. Now if only I can find a supplier of local juices, I’ll be truly happy (and that’s got to be easy, right? If you have any ideas, please let me know!).