Steamboat startups: Smell That Bread meets rising demand

Teresa Ristow
Smell That Bread co-owner Juli Gordon prepares bread for a morning bake.
Teresa Ristow

Established: Summer 2014

Employees: 2 owners/bakers, 2 staff


— Juli and Sam Gordon had the right idea at the right time when they founded Smell That Bread bakery two years ago.

Longtime restaurant chef Sam and avid baker Juli knew they were interested in starting a business.

And the couple, who met in high school in Bend, Oregon, two decades ago, realized local stores and restaurants were looking for a way to offer customers local, freshly baked breads.

The couple was able to capitalize on the local food phenomenon, and their products were quickly in demand.

“We had really good timing,” Sam Gordon said.

Both Juli and Sam studied under an intensive commercial baking program at the San Francisco Baking Institute, which helped them learn the finer points of perfecting a fresh Italian focaccia, a loaf of rye or the company’s popular seeded multigrain sourdough.

“It’s sort of like a dance,” Juli Gordon said. “There’s timing and rhythm.”

Each morning at least one of the Gordons arrive at the bakery by 3 a.m. to begin a six-hour bake, followed by packaging and delivery to businesses around town by mid-day.

While the Gordons set out to grow only their wholesale business, their downtown location on the corner of Oak and 11th streets required they keep up a retail presence, so they began selling fresh breads on-site one day per week.

Locals and visitors tasting Smell That Bread products at Low Country Kitchen, Café Diva and The Ristretto has led to an influx of retail customers wandering up to the Smell That Bread retail window, the couple said.

To meet the demand for more fresh breads, cookies and cinnamon rolls, the company hired its first part-time prep cook in February and this summer added on a retail sales employee to cover the front window.

The company hopes to expand its downtown location to create a full retail space in the future and expects to hire more employees before the year is up, including a head baker, a retail manager and full-time prep cook.

While the Gordons are feeling the effects of an ever-increasing demand for their baked goods, they acknowledge that many people still don’t know the business exists.

“There’s still a lot of people that don’t know what we do,” Sam Gordon said.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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