Neighbourhood baking in Glasgow
City’s independent baking scene is in fine health, and it’s down to giving customers what they want
Whether it’s because of the increased attention placed on the provenance of food, or the success of a certain bakery-themed television programme, neighbourhood bakeries in Glasgow are rising as fast as a sourdough loaf in the oven. And not just in the West End, where such proclivities would perhaps be more expected.
Tapa Organic has two branches, the original in the East End and another in the Southside. The previous owners were struggling with Tapa, and yet the business has flourished since James Hughes and John Shields took over. ‘We made coffee and bread part of what we did, not all that we did,’ says James. ‘We always look to what our customers want and react to that.’
This philosophy is also practised by another successful Glasgow bakery. After operating four days a week in Partick, Cottonrake opened on Great Western Road last year in place of a failing branch of Auld’s. Owner Stefan Spicknell believes Auld’s concentrated too much on what it did itself, rather than what people wanted. ‘The previous shop was more about patisserie style, and it didn’t work. They were missing a trick.’ That has led Cottonrake to all but abandon any pretensions for French patisserie baking.
The shop is small, and those lucky enough to bag a seat can watch a conveyor belt of customers, with available products changing throughout the day. ‘The only research you can do is open the door in the morning and see what’s left come 5pm,’ says Spicknell. ‘The people of Glasgow always have strong opinions about what they like, and that helps us know what to give them.’ At Tapa, Hughes says a thirst for knowledge is being more easily quenched by independents. ‘A lot of people want to chat to the bakers and find out more about the process of making bread.’
From bakery47 and the Bavarian Bakehouse to Delizique and different breid, the sector is in rude health across the city. ‘There are more and more independents opening,’ notes Hughes. ‘If it was just one or two then maybe it would be considered an oddity, but when a number are opening in different parts of the city, then it builds awareness as well as competition.’