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Artisan food shops a growing industry in Anchorage

With the economic crisis wreaking havoc on America’s traditional way of life, many are turning to small business to ensure their current and future successes, and to pursue their inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. No matter what the economic forecast says, people will always need to eat, and for the food and hospitality industry, one niche that has become successful in the past few years is the artisan food industry. There is a growing concern among consumers about where their food is coming from and health and nutrition are top priorities nationwide, these artisan food shops are helping to fill the gap.

Stores like the House of Bread bakery and Framagio’s Artisan Cheese shop have taken no time in becoming a popular staple among the local food community.

The House of Bread offers a wide variety of tasty baked goods from staples like whole wheat and white bread, to the popular gluten free bread.. More unique items include pizza rolls, energy bars and fresh baked quiche.

Framagio’s Artisan Cheese shop offers artisan cheeses and meats from around the world. Several kinds of blue cheese, smoked cheeses, and specialty cheeses are neatly displayed in the store’s cold case; specialty meats are also available such as chorizo and several varieties of salami.

Both stores offer samples of their goods to consumers. Helen Howarth, owner of Framagio’s, wants customers to bring home a cheese that they already know they like, which means that all cheeses at the shop may be tasted before purchased.

“Everyone tastes cheese differently,” Howarth said. “What one person might like, another person might not. I want people to be able to experience something truly lovely, and our samples allow them to do just that.”

UAA business student Carson Baldiviez and his family own the House of Bread bakery in South Anchorage. He started out as the head baker, but soon moved up in the ranks to manage the family owned business.

“There are always challenges with employees and making sure the bakers are doing it all correctly,” Baldiviez said. “As a student and manager, there is always too much to do.”

For the Baldiviez family, running a business is no new feat. They previously owned another business in town but wanted a change in pace. After they sold their previous business they began looking at franchises, and made the decision to go with the House of Bread. Owner Ginna Baldiviez explained that she and her husband felt this opportunity would be best for them and for their family since it’s a smaller franchise with only a few stores nationwide.  Baldiviez considers their location as part of the reason for their success.

“It’s a lot of hard work, and takes a lot of energy and time to run and open and operate a business,” Ginna Baldiviez said. “We are here seven days a week.”

It took them two months of nonstop work to design and set up their shop, aided by friends and family. Their hard work paid off, and just shy of their first year in business they are looking into opening up a second location.

Howarth’s road to owning Framagio’s Artisan Cheese began with her travels. She worked for a local arts organization, and because of her position, was able to travel the world. Whenever she traveled she made sure to try the regional cheeses. She would go to the cheese shops and spend hours looking at and sampling the different cheeses, and finally, out of self-interest and indulgence, decided to open Fromagio’s.

Through her internship, and the kindness of others sharing information, she has had a wonderful experience with her new venture. Howarth explained that there is a certain aestetic about working with cheese.

“It’s an art form,” Howarth said, and because of her background in art she has a great appreciation for it.

From bread, to cheese, to chocolate, tea and wine, specialty food shops are popping up all over Anchorage. If you are in the mood for a truly unique experience, put down the Big Mac and head to one of these locally owned businesses for a taste of fine artisan cuisine.

Written by Suhaila Brunelle

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