KANSAS CITY, Mo. – What started in the back of a restaurant in Westport now has a standalone, 24/7 operation and a retail storefront. Kansas City-based Farm to Market Bread Company celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
Founder Mark Friend and his business partner launched the bakery in 1993 at a friend’s restaurant. Today, the mixers and ovens are in use 365 days a year at the company’s Crossroads bakery. In September, the company opened its first retail sandwich shop at Parlor.
From the first days in the back of the friend's restaurant, Kansas City has been a secret to the company’s success.
“When we started we went to her and she was willing to trade bread for rent, giving us the space for our bakery. It's those kinds of things that make Kansas City special. We really felt like we were well supported,” Friend said.
Beyond the city’s support, Friend shared three key factors to help him reach this milestone: use the best ingredients, stay true to your traditional methods and never become complacent.
The company fights complacency by venturing into sandwich stores, baking new varieties of breads and finding ways to partner with more restaurants.
“One of my favorite customers is the Rieger. They are one block away. They are able to come over and get fresh bread right out of the oven every night for their dinner service. Finding new, innovative ways like that to partner with new, local restaurants is where we're growing,” John Friend said.
John, who is Mark’s son, is the vice president, and he's ready to take over the company. He said the future looks bright. Aside from opening in Parlor, there are thoughts of expanding with a second bakery or a new location in order to reach customers across a larger region.
This month, Mark Friend released a cookbook full of recipes for breads, including his renowned sourdough. You can purchase Baking Artisan Bread from Natural Starters online by clicking here.