After SFR staffers found ourselves working in an area of Midtown that practically requires driving for lunch following years on Marcy Street—where restaurants are plentiful—we realized eating good food would be a bit of a challenge. For that and a slew of reasons, I’m happy to report Bread Shop’s new location on Lena Street feels right; like the space was always meant for a bakery. Thanks to co-founders (and married couple) Mayme Berman and Jacob Brenner, we can all sigh in collective relief and get about the important business of stuffing our faces. Thank God.
If you somehow didn’t know, Bread Shop (1703 Lena St., (505) 230-8421) opened in January 2020, just months before the pandemic began. Brenner, a Santa Fean, had spent the bulk of his previous years in Portland, Oregon, attending Lewis & Clark college—where, btw, Berman, also attended classes, though that’s oddly not where they met. There, Brenner worked as a chef and line cook at various eateries. He also became obsessed with bread and baking. Berman worked in beverage distro (think wine and beer) and today continues to slay in a more managerial space—what a power couple!
Together, they moved back to Santa Fe, after which Bread Shop opened just across from Iconik Coffee Roasters. Thanks to Berman’s business savvy and Brenner’s weirdly preternatural ability to bake just the best damn bread at high altitudes, the bakery’s following developed at an accelerated rate. Business was excellent almost straight away; the global disaster, however, was not. But, with a bit of a luck and a rabid fanbase, Bread Shop survived the lockdowns and such without the assistance of PPP bucks (the business was too young to even apply, Berman tells SFR). In fact, it thrived.
“We were busier than I ever thought right off the bat,” Brenner tells SFR. “It was awesome, but we grew quicker than I anticipated.”
Turns out what was meant to be a small bakery with a service window needed to grow quickly to keep up with demand, and Bread Shop was selling out fast. Still, Brenner had never pictured a larger-scale business. Back when Bread Shop first opened, he even told SFR, “I want it to be, as small as it is, a place where people could come hang out, a mini community space.”
Much has changed, though, and the bakery has taken over a bigger space within a building owned by Brenner’s parents—who also own the nearby Lena Street Lofts and some other neighboring buildings. Bread Shop stands on its own merits easily, though, and now includes a comfortable sun-soaked seating area (and a patio for warmer months). It remains a community space. Berman and Brenner boast six full- and part-time employees, and and have started offering more types of bread alongside a concise sandwich and pastry menu, a robust selection of deli goods and, thrillingly for some of us, coffee from Portland’s Heart Roasters. The space is not only welcoming and clean, but begging to become a regular haunt for folks who live, work or otherwise travel into Midtown.
Just last Thursday, a co-worker and I popped in to grab a couple takeaway sammies—both salami with mortadella, spicy olive relish and red onion served on Bread Shop’s proprietary focaccia ($12). It’s not often that the bread becomes the star of the sandwich show, but with Brenner’s soft and chewy focaccia, which makes use of a sourdough base, as do all his breads, it just about does. Still, the high quality salami and the salty bite of the olive relish work so well together that a proper bit of bread only seems right. Even better? The sandwiches were ready to go. And despite having been prepared earlier in the day, they still tasted fresh and hadn’t gotten sweaty—a testament to Bread Shop’s testing period, which Berman describes as making sandwiches they themselves would want, then seeing if they’re still good the next day. Spoiler? They are.
And since the salami sando treated me so right, I returned the following day for another, as well as the roasted cauliflower sandwich on a crusty sesame seed baguette ($12). The bread was an excellent marriage of flavorful and crunchy, and manchego, green salsa and romanesco made with red pepper and hazelnuts catapulted it into the divine. This is a sandwich that would wow even the most devout carnivore and, like its brother, was ready to go when ordered. A stiff cup of coffee from Heart ($3.25) worked wonders, too, and it was everything I had to not order the roasted beet sandwich and hazelnut brownie before I left.
For now, Bread Shop is open Wednesday through Saturday, but Berman and Brenner say they hope to expand the hours come summer.
“We don’t want to do stuff unless we feel really ready, and we can do it right instead of throwing it up and seeing what sticks,” Berman explains. “It’s a joy to see people sit and eat your food [in the new space] after watching them take it away for so long.”
“We want to grow deliberately,” Brenner adds.