Tacomans will turn out in droves to save a local business. In 2012, for example, the Blue Mouse Theatre faced the challenge of going digital or closing their doors. A Kickstarter campaign was started, and in total 1,041 backers (including myself) pledged $84,194 to save the Mouse.
But will the people of Tacoma show up in the same way for a business struggling to get their doors open for the first time?
Ten days before their anticipated June 29 opening an update was posted on their Facebook page. It reads in part:
“Two weeks ago while finishing structural work we discovered joists that run north to south in the building, suddenly switch direction and run east to west in the worst possible place. We called our architect and structural engineers and subsequently had to halt tenant improvements while a solution is engineered. At this time we are now looking at steel beams to support the roof as well as seismic adjustments.”
“Needless to say, this poses two problems. 1) We will not be opening by June 29th. More than likely with delays in steel and glulam production, we are pushed out 6-8 weeks. And with increased costs of steel and construction materials we are now way beyond our projected budget. 2) We need to find more funding.”
If you haven’t yet driven by (1316 Martin Luther King Jr Way) and seen their coming soon sign you can find it in the heart of Hilltop, next to Fulcrum art gallery and the now empty Tacoma Tofu.
Grit City Baking’s plans include turning the lights on this place of business — and literally keeping them on. Because their production will run near 24 hours a day their storefront will be continually lit up on an otherwise dark block. They aim to be an “anchor store” for the area, hoping their presence will encourage other businesses to move in and open.
We recently spoke with the team and toured the bakery’s space. Here’s what you need to know:
– They’re going to make bagels. Real bagels, made the hard way with a steam kettle. The kind of bagels it’s hard to find anywhere else around the Tacoma area.
– There’s a master plan for longevity. It ranges from seemingly little things like ensuring their lease amount can’t be suddenly raised more than they can afford (a common issue that can crush small businesses), to selecting a space large enough to buy in bulk, keeping costs down.
– They’re serious about taking care of their people. Bakery clerks working the front counter will start at $15/hr, and bakers at $17 — both positions include benefits. The goal is to create 30-40 jobs in Hilltop. The kind of jobs people hang on to, which means a low turnover rate and staff that gets to know their customers.
– You might already be eating their goods and not even realize it. Borrowing an already up-and-running commercial kitchen space Grit City Baking makes the crumble for Ellenos Yogurt, bao dough and white bread for Moshi Moshi, and they make biscuits, soda bread and more for Doyle’s Public House.
Grit City Baking Company is the passion project of five Tacoma families who’ve put all they have into this Hilltop business. They’re now earning the right to their “Grit City” name and fighting to get the doors open.
“So, Tacoma, this is also a crowdsourcing appeal to our community who has supported us. Should you know someone who has always wanted to own part of a bakery, or anyone who is looking to earn interest from a loan. SEND THEM OUR WAY! Or consider buying a Bread Poets’ Society Membership, which also aids our budget.”
Yes, they said “Bread” Poets Society. Here’s how it works:
Donate $150 and receive sweet perks for a year like 15% off your in-store purchases, a gift basket of bakery goods, a birthday cake, personalized 7″x7″ paver brick, laser engraved with your name and/or message to grace our entryway and more.
Bump up to the $350 and you’re in for life — with 25% off in-store purchases and a birthday cake every.single.year.