A sweet shop like no other opened in Raleigh on Wednesday, becoming the Triangle’s first dessert food hall.
Little Blue Bakehouse co-owner Allison Vick unveiled the new collection of micro-bakeries this week in the Longview shopping center on Raleigh’s New Bern Avenue, next door to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.
The Bakehouse is a collective of five local sweets makers, using the space as a commissary kitchen and retail shop.
The five shops include Little Blue Macaron, which Vick co-owns with her husband, Carl, cookie maker Bites of Sam, Bold Batch Creamery, cake shop Boozie Bakes and Medicine Mama Farmacy.
Vendors beyond Little Blue Macaron
Bites of Sam: From baker Samantha Hess, Bites of Sam deals in monster-sized cookies studded with sweet indulgences. In these towering cookies you might find gooey ribbons of Nutella or peanut butter or caramel. Beyond cookies, Bites of Sam makes breakfast breads like frosted cinnamon rolls and banana bread.
Boozie Bakes: These spiked cupcakes from baker Angel Louis play on popular cocktail and alcohol flavors. The Red Velvet is infused with red wine, the Orange is brightened with triple sec and many other flavors can be kicked up with “boozy” shooters. A standout is the white chocolate bourbon, a flavor combination Louis says woke her from a dream in the middle of the night.
Bold Batch Creamery: This small batch scoop shop from owner Maura McCarthy specializes in upgraded classic flavors and seasonal creations. Right now you’ll find scoops of peach ice cream with salted vanilla wafers, or a salted peanut butter with chocolate cookie “gravel” or strawberry ice cream with strawberry jam and shortcake crumble. The magic of the Bakehouse means Bold Batch is also making ice cream sandwiches with Little Blue Macaron and Bites of Sam cookies.
Medicine Mama’s Farmacy: The opening of the Bakehouse means the expansion of this four-year-old CBD shop from owner Stephanie Berry-Terry. Medicine Mama already has a retail shop in the Boxyard RTP development, but now adds a commissary space and second store, selling edibles and tinctures and oils with CBD.
Origins of a Bakehouse
Before the pandemic, the Vicks had been working to open a retail shop for their macaron company.
“It was February 2020 and we were about to sign a lease, but thought, ‘Let’s see how this COVID thing goes,” Allison Vick said.
Now two years later, the Little Blue Bakehouse opens with strength in numbers.
“We wanted to create a space that could serve more as a commissary kitchen,” Vick said. “We’ve seen how hard it is to find your own place. We just wanted to be a stepping stone in that process (for partners).”
Vick and other Little Blue Bakehouse vendors have experience renting space and time in commercial commissary kitchens, the behind-the-scenes backbone of the Triangle’s flourishing food truck scene.
“They’re geared more towards food trucks and caterers, not bakers or sweets makers,” Vick said.
So Little Blue Bakehouse was born, with a five kiosk retail front, a coffee bar brewing up beans from Raleigh roaster Larry’s Coffee and a single cash register. A large glass window peers into an expansive production space, which each vendor can use to whip up ice cream flavors or booze-flavored cupcakes and other sweets.
Little Blue Macaron
For Vick, the path to macarons included a stint baking cupcakes after college, a brief corporate career in Austin, Texas, a return to baking by way of the midnight to sunrise shift at a large Whole Foods production kitchen and then heading back to North Carolina.
Macarons held a fascination and crave-ability that set them apart from other sweets, Vick said.
“There’s this crunch and this chew that makes you feel like you’re biting into a crunch cloud,” Vick said. “That’s what keeps people coming back for more.”
The namesake of Little Blue Macaron is Vick’s signature sweet, a blue macaron with a ring of almond buttercream and a center of three berry jam. Other flavors include pistachio, lavender and honey and browned butter vanilla.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the shakeup of industries and lives has also meant new business owners following their dreams.
“The amount of new businesses created in the pandemic is just enormous,” Vick said. “So many people decided they didn’t want to go back, that what they were really passionate about were dog treats or lollipops, that their pandemic creation businesses were really what set them on fire.”
At the Bakehouse, Bites of Sam and Boozy Bakes are pandemic projects. Boozy Bakes owner Angel Louis has been a social worker, a special education teacher and events manager. In the pandemic she jumped into a lifelong love — baking.
“COVID happened and I think we all reevaluated what we wanted to do,” Louis said. “I decided I wanted to do what I wanted to do and this is my passion.”
The Bakehouse will keep later hours on the weekends, aiming to offer dates a place to land for something sweet in the shop or something to take home.
“I call it the temptation station,” Vick said.
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