Bread does indeed prefer a climate more temperate than KC's volatile weather provides. So in lieu of moving to San Francisco, Farm to Market is doing the next best thing. The company has asked Michel Suas of the San Francisco Baking Institute to help design the layout of its new production plant, at 100 East 20th Street, to streamline the baking process, taking into account Kansas City's temperature extremes.
The plan right now is for Farm to Market to move from its current Waldo location (216 West 73rd Street) to downtown, possibly as early as late July, before the apex of this summer.
Just off Walnut Street, can lights sit in one corner of the warehouse that previously held the Prime Rib Grill and a catering hall for Hereford House. Farm to Market has plans for a $500,000 renovation of the space over 60 days, sealing the floors and walls and adding a completely new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.
Dough will move through the space in a counterclockwise fashion on its way to becoming bread. In the northwest corner, the dough will be mixed and then formed. The center of the room will feature a tunnel-style retarder proofer, the main new piece of equipment for the bakery, which helps control the temperature and humidity of dough starting the proofing process. A curtain will divide the two halves of the room, and the HVAC unit will run as two separate zones to keep the temperatures consistent in the mixing and forming areas.
The three rack ovens and hearth oven will be relocated from the Waldo plant to the southeast corner of the warehouse space, which has room for twice as many ovens. (Friend hopes that the bakery will only have to shut down for a day while the ovens are installed.) The bread will then cool along routes by the loading bay in back. And for the first time in the company's history, the public will be able to see the bakery in action.
"People always want to come see the bakery. But it's slick and it's tight. In the new space, we'll definitely be able to give tours," says John Friend, Mark's son, who manages the day-to-day operations of the bakery.
Farm to Market intends to use the second floor for office space but hopes to find a tenant to rent out half the floor.
"You have to love the smell of fresh baked bread, and we'll throw in a loaf every day with the rent," John Friend jokes.
As for what the future holds, Farm to Market hasn't ruled out expanding into other cities. First, it's a question of getting the company's 48 employees settled into the new space.
"We want to focus on Kansas City. We want to be one of the best places, if not the best place to work. A place where a baker can have a secure job at a living wage," John Friend says. "I'm proud that our name is associated with great restaurants here, and I want to continue to foster that growth. This is a great city for food."