Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington
This Pacific Northwest pioneer, founded by Gwenyth Bassetti in 1989, grew out of her little Seattle sandwich shop The Bakery, which when it opened in 1972 served a custom "Bakery Blend" coffee made for them by a new local company called Starbucks. Today Grand Central Bakery has three locations in Seattle and another six (soon to be seven) in Portland, and is run by Gwen's son Ben, a onetime geologist and fisherman in Alaska; daughter Piper, the "soul" of the company; and an assortment of friends who share their passion. Grand Central's rustic European-style hearth baked breads are made from sustainably grown white flour from Shepherd's Grain in Palouse, Washington and whole wheat flour from Camas Country Mill in Oregon's Willamette Valley, which is bringing back heirloom wheat varieties like Red Fife well suited to the local climate. In addition to their classic baguettes, levains, ciabattas, sour ryes, and their famous white Italian-style Como Loaf, with its crisp crust and glossy crumb, Grand Central Bakery has just started a seasonal loaf program, kicking off this past winter with a rye-based Swedish Limpa, scented with anise, coriander, caraway seeds, and orange zest.