Although he started out in a supporting role, Grover Beach Sourdough has become a rising star on the South County culinary scene.
Started by Jacob and Brooke Town, who opened their popular restaurant The Spoon Trade across the street in 2015, the bakery is approaching its second year of operation on West Grand Avenue.
To find the cozy spot, simply look for the sign with the black crow – a nod to the ubiquitous avian residents of Grover Beach.
Freshly baked sourdough bread has always been the hallmark of The Spoon Trade menu. It’s a valuable part of the restaurant’s history that began before cities even found a location for their business.
The couple returned to Grover Beach after gaining considerable experience at several San Francisco dining establishments.
It was a homecoming for both of them. Brooke Town had grown up in the area, and she and Jacob met while working at the Cracked Crab restaurant in Shell Beach.
Cities knew they wanted to open a farm-to-table restaurant in San Luis Obispo County, so they became frequent visitors to farmers’ markets.
“We were at Arroyo Grande market and spotted native yeast on blueberries from Two peas in a pod (firm), remembers Jacob Town.
Yeast occurs naturally on most fruits and is unique to the specific location where the fruit was grown.
Town combined the fresh berries with flour and water, and voila, the signature sourdough was born. The rest of the recipe involves certified organic flour and 18-24 hour fermentation.
This prolonged process is essential because “fermentation often distorts and breaks up gluten,” Town noted. As a result, some people with mild gluten intolerance may appreciate Grover Beach Levain products.
“Bread gets a bad rap,” Town said, “but it’s a different product when you care about how you make it and what you make it with.”
Unsurprisingly, the freshly baked sourdough was greeted with delight by the customers of The Spoon Trade. It wasn’t long before demand began to strain the limited kitchen space.
Then a spot opened right in front of the restaurant, giving birth to Grover Beach Sourdough.
While a retail storefront has always been planned, the location was first used for baking the restaurant’s breads, cookies, waffles, and some desserts.
As the fledgling business grew, an accomplished team formed: Drew Araujo, Jesse Stenberg and Meghan Bruenning-Van Artsdalen.
This allowed for more items to be added to the baking line, such as bagels, pretzels, coffee cakes, challah and hand pies, as well as rotating sourdough flavors.
One of the more popular recent additions is the Saturday Special Pizza which brings new meaning to deep dishes.
It starts with sourdough bread spread out on a 12-inch by 2-inch round, then topped with your choice of veg or sausage, sauce, and cheese. The end result weighs around six and a half pounds and can feed six to eight people.
Only 10 pizzas are made each week; pre-orders are due by Thursday.
In addition to easing the cooking demands of The Spoon Trade kitchen, Grover Beach Sourdough has become a community gathering place in its own right.
Several tables have been added for guests to enjoy light lunches of sandwiches, salads and soups, as well as cookies and gravy, frittatas and waffles.
“We’re pretty happy with what we’ve created in this little corner of Grover Beach,” said Brooke Town. “We really tried to listen to the community, not just because they are our customers, but because they are our neighbors!
Grover Beach Sourdough
236 West Grand Ave., Grover Beach
805-668-2256 or www.gbsourdough.com
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day
The scene: A retail display case combined with a cozy cafe.
The kitchen: A range of freshly prepared products, especially sourdough products, as well as sandwiches, soups, salads, frittatas and waffles. Check the website and social media for current promotions and rotating flavor options.
Expect to spend: Most baked goods start at $ 3, sourdough breads at $ 3 and $ 8, lunch dishes $ 4 to $ 12, pizzas at $ 40.
This story was originally published 11 March 2020 05h00.