Bread and Butter’s Rise to a Favorite Local Bakery in Chattanooga
“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
– Marc Anthony
Victoria Capdevielle and Alex Whitman might have a couple of counterpoints for Marc Anthony. They undoubtedly love what they do, and they’re loving watching their business grow. But it certainly didn’t happen without good old-fashioned effort, late nights, and very early mornings.
Victoria and Alex made their way to Chattanooga individually, both pursuing rock-climbing adventures. They met on the cliffs and fell in love. Shortly thereafter, they were merging their lives, renovating a house, and building a business from scratch! These daring lovebirds dove head-first into the baking business. They relied on Alex’s years of self-taught baking experience and a love for feeding people, paired with Victoria’s sharp business sense and a decade of experience in marketing.
Alex recalls when they decided to jump in, “This building in Red Bank had been empty for a while. The whole time we were dating, and even after we found our home, we would pass it and always wonder why it was sitting empty. So when we started planning the bakery, this was our location of choice. And it’s been great for us.”
However, the building needed a total renovation. While it was receiving a top-to-bottom makeover, Alex spent seven days a week and more than 12 hours a day in the kitchen experimenting with recipes. “I had to learn to bake at a commercial level and plan the processes and recipes,” he says. His time in the kitchen paid off. In fact, the crux of Bread & Butter’s mission is to feed their customers real food. By choosing to use only wild yeast, Alex and Victoria must let their doughs ferment longer and rise more slowly. “It’s a trade-off that we believe is worth it. Our breads take 48 hours to reach the baking stage, and we feed our dough starters multiple times a day.” The result is naturally leavened bread with more complex flavor profiles, similar to rustic European loaves.
Another major part of their quest to serve real food is sourcing ingredients for their baked goods locally. They go to numerous local farms and businesses for their produce and cheese. All their eggs come from Tickiwoo Farm.
“We pride ourselves on using local ingredients. And not just a few so that we can say we use local ingredients – we literally buy everything locally that we can. Obviously, wheat for flour isn’t grown here, but all of our produce, eggs, herbs, cheese, everything we can find comes from this area,” Victoria shares.
In addition to using local ingredients in their baked products, their store also includes a market element. They stock a variety of local products on their shelves and in their cooler to make Bread & Butter a one-stop shop. They serve Velo coffee and carry Walden Ridge honey, Hoff Sauce, Belle Chocolate, Benton’s bacon, products from Main Street Meats, Olive Chattanooga, and Sequatchie Cove Creamery, and more. “The items we stock on our shelves and in the cooler are kind of our curated selection of Chattanooga products,” Victoria explains. “They’re our favorites.”
Both she and Alex view supporting local businesses as a way to reinvest their money into the betterment of their own community. “This bakery was always meant to be a community bakery – a place to stop in and grab your provisions,” Alex says.
And the Chattanooga community seems to feel the same way. “We opened in December of 2016. It was a really cold day. But there was standing room only in the store, and the line stretched way out into the parking lot,” Alex recalls. Victoria adds, “We gave away 50 cookies to the first 50 customers, and it only took us 49 minutes. And it really hasn’t slowed down since!”
Waking up at 5 a.m. every day to roll out croissants, bake loaves of “Not Quite White,” and make sure the beautiful front case is filled with everything from cowboy pockets to their legendary cinnamon rolls requires a daily commitment. But Alex and Victoria are used to it; it’s their bread and butter now. CS