Blackbird Bakery ‘expands’ with a nearby café

If you’ve got a highly successful bakery, why not expand it?

That’s not exactly what the owners of Blackbird Bakery are doing with the opening of Fork & Spoon in early April, since the new eatery will be more of a lunch/dinner satellite than an enlarged bakery.

Still, the near proximity of the two businesses – with 120 Madrone Lane just around the corner from Blackbird – will allow much of the food to be prepared in the bakery and its owners,  Jeff Shepard and Heidi Umphenour, to create an endeavor that is still very close to home.

“It’s something we’ve talked about for a while,” said Shepard. “Having the restaurant in a building so close to the bakery was an opportunity we couldn’t pass on.”

The owners, who opened the Blackbird in 1999 and have been busy baking breads, quiche and sweets for a grateful community ever since, will emphasize local food products while serving soups, sandwiches and salads for lunch. In the evening, small plates of appetizers will be served with beer and wine.

While Blackbird is strictly vegetarian, Fork & Spoon will feature a variety of meat and fish sandwiches, including meatloaf, BLT, salami and tuna.

“We’ve talking to local and county farmers about the products they can provide us,” Shepard said. “We want local and seasonal food to dominate our menu. It depends on availability, but we want to be as local as much as possible.”

The inside of the restaurant is a cozy 600 square feet, which is large enough for 10 two-person tables. There will also be four tables placed in a 300-square-foot courtyard that is tucked away from traffic.

And, at least during the Winslow Way reconstruction project, there will be public seating outside on Madrone Lane, part of which will be closed to vehicle traffic during much of the summer.

“We’re looking forward to that,” said Shepard, whose Blackbird clientele will also spill out into the narrow street. “Despite the construction, it’ll have a piazza feel to it where people can walk around and enjoy eating outdoors. We’ll put some seating out there for that.”

The Fork & Spoon will not have an oven or stove, which means the bakery will produce ingredients such as soup and bread while the food will be prepped and assembled in the café.

“Part of our motivation is that lunch has been successful at Blackbird but because of the small space we couldn’t grow it,” he said. “Plus, we’ve wanted to take advantage of the increasing amount of food being grown locally.”

The staff will be small with no more than eight employees, including Lena Davidson, who will be the café’s floor manager.

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