True Blue’s new outpost in Hampstead will do more than provide area residents with a variety of meats, baked goods and culinary accompaniments; it will also serve as the bakery for True Blue’s restaurants in Wilmington.
The soon-to-open location at 13865 U.S. 17 “is not a restaurant,” owner Bobby Zimmerman emphasized. “It’s a custom, full-service butcher shop and a bakery.”
Zimmerman had been on the lookout for a location to use as a commissary bakery and found what he wanted in the Hampstead facility that formerly housed The Pretzel Man.
“I was definitely looking for a space to use as a bakery. With [True Blue] Butcher and Table, we could handle everything in-house. Then we added Mariposa and [True Blue] Butcher and Barrel, and all of a sudden, we were out of space,” he said. “Most restaurants find it more convenient – well, it is more convenient – to buy their bread frozen from a big-box store or from a local bakery. But we always make fresh pasta and use our own bakery. We do as much ourselves as possible. It was always our ambition to scale up our bakery and have it in a more convenient location.”
The expansion location, Zimmerman said, is “truly a turnkey bakery. It’s well done, with high-end equipment.”
Markus Schmid, owner of The Pretzel Man, worked with a German oven designer who built the shop’s high-tech brick-lined ovens, Zimmerman said.
“You can use your phone to start them preheating while you’re on your way to the store,” he said.
Another piece of specialty equipment allows the baker to turn out precise, preformed dough portions.
“We used to bake 2,000 burger buns every week: hand-rolled and hand-scaled. We stayed true to it,” Zimmerman said. “Now I can produce 30 balls of dough in eight seconds with the portioning machine we have. Now we’re baking 3,000 burger buns every day.”
Zimmerman, along with executive pastry chef MacKenzie Clements and her team, has occupied the Hampstead space for about two months so far, and they are getting used to the ovens, according to Zimmerman. “There are plenty of learning curves,” he added. “We’re having fun working through all our recipes. Bread can be done at the restaurant level, but it’s not an easy program to handle, especially when you become very busy.”
In addition to several varieties of bread, True Blue Butcher and Baker will offer cookies, muffins, scones and sticky buns, along with pretzels, a tribute to Schmid.
The butcher shop will offer the same array of meats as are found at other True Blue locations: fresh cuts, DIY kits and butcher boxes. Complementing the meats and baked goods will be selected seasonings, olive oil, cheeses, and a collection of wines and beers – the latter chosen by True Blue’s wine director Georges Courgnaud.
“We do a lot with our True Blue Home DIY Boxes,” Zimmerman said. “Everything’s in there: sauces, cooking oil. Now that we have this pastry opportunity I think we’ll do variations on our DIY Boxes.”
Landing in Hampstead gives True Blue an opportunity to better serve a growing customer base.
“A lot of folks from Hampstead don’t come see us at The Forum location but maybe once a month,” Zimmerman said. “It made sense to get [our new location] into meat, cheese, wine and other retail items that they can purchase and have fun with at home.”
Have a tip for Restaurant Roundup? Email us at: [email protected].