Nashoba Brook Bakery opened for business on September 11, 1998 in an old warehouse in Concord, Massachusetts on the banks of the Nashoba Brook, a tributary of the Assabet River. They — Stuart Witt and John Gates — dreamed about and planned for that day for more than a year. For several years, Stu had worked for a successful artisan bread company in Burlington, Vermont. John had just completed law school at the University of Virginia, but decided to forego plans to be an environmental advocate and join Stu instead in a burst of entrepreneurial energy.
But the story really begins with a friendship. John and Stu were close friends in high school. Though they went their separate ways after graduating, they stayed in touch and John became a big fan of the breads Stu was creating in Vermont. On several occasions, the two talked casually about going into business together. One day Stu called John and said, “Do you remember how we talked about starting a bread business? Well, I’m ready.” John thought hard for at least one day before he called Stu back and said, “Let’s do it.”
Stu and John spent hours over the next year philosophizing about bread, about life and about the opportunity to create a business that had meaning beyond the endless daily grind that consumes so many lives. From the beginning, they committed to starting a business that would take care of its employees, and give back to the community, while at the same time creating a space for people to meet, to talk and to organize around important social, cultural and political issues.
In the end, the bakery’s home was designed to be many businesses fit into one space. There is, of course, the kitchens – about 4,000 square feet anchored by a massive 32,000 pound French bread oven with windows all around so that café patrons are able to look in on the operation. The café is L-shaped with one side dedicated to take-out customers and the other filled with tables and chairs. In a back corner there are couches and armchairs, magazines and a few toys. The bakery also serves a growing network of gourmet markets, sandwich shops, caterers, restaurants, supermarkets, hotels and other cafes. So Nashoba Brook Bakery is a wholesale bread and pastry business, a retail bakery, a café, a takeout lunch spot, and a coffee shop all under one roof.
With over 85 employees and more than 300 wholesale accounts, the dreams of Stu and John have become a reality. Look for the “Slow Rise” breads in your neighborhood market and come have lunch by the Nashoba Brook.