CEDAR FALLS — A new bakery coming to College Hill has already built a customer base one doorstep at a time.
Milkbox Bakery, which provides weekly home delivery of bread, pastries and other baked goods from a commercial kitchen in Andrea Geary’s home, is preparing to open in the former La Calle restaurant, 2223 College St.
“All along the dream was to have a retail storefront,” Geary said. “But I honestly planned for that first concept of the bakery to last a little bit longer than it did.”
Geary’s business, started last April, has outpaced her kitchen thanks to loyal customers who subscribe for weekly deliveries of the made-from-scratch products she bakes with mostly organic, locally-produced ingredients.
“If it can be purchased locally, I do; it’s a deeply held business value,” she said. “I find the products truly are of a higher quality. They’re fresher and more pleasing to work with.”
Geary gets milk, butter and cream from Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy in Hudson; buys her eggs and honey from local producers; grows some vegetables and herbs in her own garden and greenhouse; and gets her flours and organic grains from Early Morning Harvest, a small family farm near Panora that grinds the grains to flour with an old stone mill.
“Local food for me is a way of investing in the community,” Geary said. “It’s an economic development tool that builds relationships … and I love being able to invest in Iowa and invest in other small businesses.”
Geary recently installed new ovens and mixing equipment in her College Hill store but prefers using old-school techniques in the kitchen.
“I’m not using machines; I use a rolling pin,” she said. “I think you can tell the difference.”
Geary, raised between Denver and Waverly, taught herself how to bake while studying at the University of Iowa. She also picked up an interest in local foods and sustainable agriculture.
“I started baking all of my own bread as an undergrad,” she said. “When people started requesting it I realized I was probably going to have to start asking for money and stop giving it all away.”
Geary opened a bakery near Champaign-Urbana, Ill., in 2004 but was unable to secure the locally produced ingredients she desired. Upon returning to Iowa, she worked as coordinator of the Northern Iowa Food and Farm Partnership at the University of Northern Iowa, which helped connect local producers to end users.
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Geary plans to continue the home-delivery subscriptions and selling her goods at places like Hansen’s Dairy, SingleSpeed Brewing and Lark Brewing.
But customers will soon be able to stop by College Hill to buy and sample artisan breads, croissants, doughnuts, muffins, cookies and specialty cakes.
“I’m hoping it’s a nice stop on The Hill, a place to build community,” Geary said.
Ralph Bryant, who subscribes to Milkbox’s delivery service, said he’ll be among the first customers at the College Hill store.
“Our family looks forward each week to delivery of a locally produced and healthy loaf of bread,” Bryant said. “Knowing we can continue with delivery and have the option to visit a storefront on College Hill will be amazing. Milkbox Bakery will be a great addition to the College Hill neighborhood.”
Visit Milkbox Bakery online at www.milkboxbakery.com.
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