The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Please Help Save Proof Bread in Mesa, AZ..

VRini's picture
VRini

Please Help Save Proof Bread in Mesa, AZ..

A while back I started up a forum post about Proof Bread, a "micro-bakery" located in a residential neighborhood in Mesa, AZ. Again, all strictly legal due to a local ordinance allowing "cottage" businesses run out of a residence.

All of us have had or know of a disagreeable neighbor who doesn't hesitate for a second to raise a stink about something he or she doesn't want in the neighborhood. Jon and Amanda, the owners of Proof Bread have such a neighbor and due to that person's unrelenting efforts they have to move the bakery they've spent 3 years building and fine tuning for their extremely demanding business to another facility by early January, 2021.

Jon and Amanda did their best to address their neighbor's concerns. The neighbor didn't like 3-4 employee cars parked on the street. So Jon had a parking slab poured adjacent to his driveway extending into his front yard for employee parking and then planted ficus trees in the yard to hide the parked cars from view. The neighbor also objected to a delivery truck parked in the driveway. Jon and Amanda did their best to limit this truck's presence and trusted that the ficus trees would help .

You can easily surmise that all this did next to nothing to satisfy their neighbor. So this person did some research and found a city ordinance that required employees of the cottage businesses to be city residents. The neighbor forced this issue with the city and the city had no choice but to act. Jon and Amanda had always seen that the day would come when the business would outgrow their house but never expected this day would be forced on them so soon. So now they're appealing to admirers of their enterprise and their high standards to support them in this difficult time.

To be fair, this neighbor was probably uncomfortable with a workforce drawn from outside the city, seeing unknown characters, coming and going and possibly causing unwanted mischief. Nobody wants that kind of headache either. I don't want to demonize this person.

But here we are. Moving is a daunting project for this small business with such high standards for quality. Their garage bakery is like a finely tuned watch that required countless, sleepless hours of experimentation and hard labor to manage ambient temp for the bread and pastry products, the extreme at times Arizona climate, refrigeration and plumbing challenges, etc to produce a superior product. The market for commercial space, controlled by heartless real estate corporations is completely stacked against small businesses trying to grow while operating at precipitous margins. To help cover the lease burden, Proof Bread will have to open a storefront to monetize their new facility.

But luck favors the bold. Jon and Amanda found a suitable building in downtown Mesa available for lease and owned by an individual. But they need help.

Proof Bread's youtube channel in my humble opinion is a gift to the world. For anyone who appreciates what baking fresh bread and pastries from the best locally grown ingredients possible brings to your life, I don't think you can help but fall in love with what Jon and Amanda has built and continues to build as related in this marvelous series of youtube videos. And in the following video you will learn they have personal challenges too - a daughter with a recent diagnosis of a very rare genetic disorder. Please consider watching the following:

Fair warning, the video is long. Take your time and skip about if you want. And after absorbing what's presented, if you're so inclined please contribute what you can to their GoFundMe:  https://gf.me/u/yzr87v

Comments

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

 but my sympathies lie with your neighbor.  Even though it may have started out small, putting an activity in a quiet residential area is the reason zoning laws exist.  I would not under estimate the vibrations and amount of activity your business creates and the stress it puts on all your neighbors.  A parking lot can easily be seen as encroaching commercial business and the garage definately looks encroaching and not very "residential."  I can see why your neighbor feels threatened even if you cannot.  I'm glad you realize you would one day outgrow a cottage industry and happy for you that it came so soon.  I'm also glad your bakery is moving to a more commercial area and am curious if you plan on also living in part of the building.  If not, why not? 

By the way, how many of your neighbors live down wind from your house?    Do you have a "walk in" that sends out low frequency vibrations into your neighborhood?  These are most irritating and overlooked activities.  

Good luck with GoFundMe. I hope it helps your burden in resettling, a very stressful time.

VRini's picture
VRini

And their bakery at the moment is in the garage which is legal. If all of their dedicated employees lived in the city, the neighbor would have no complaint that could be acted upon by the city. Nothing about noise, vibrations or any effluence. You mention the garage itself which is no larger than any other shelter for a mobile home or recreational vehicle in that very neighborhood. And again Jon and Amanda had every intention to move the business out of their house  when it was financially feasible. My recollection is that they needed 18 months. Now thanks to that neighbor they have till early January and are appealing to all of us with a modicum of sympathy and understanding to help.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

this wasn't posted by Jon and Amanda.  What do they think about you posting their neighborhood squabble?  

How can we learn from this situation?  We are often blinded by our love to bake but not everyone wants a bakery next door.  Free bread might help. ( and it costs less than moving.)

VRini's picture
VRini

Jon and Amanda know nothing of this article. They've appealed to the entire world through youtube and other social media for help to save their business. My blog post is just one other way of spreading the word to people who can appreciate what they do for their community which is of such a superior quality compared to that of the industrially produced bread and pastry you typically find at a supermarket.

The neighbor was not persuaded to relent by their artisan bread and pastry products. I'm sure free samples were offered to the neighbor just as they were to city officials who came to call on Jon and Amanda about the complaint.

Lessons? I'm reminded of this quote in regards to the city: “Bureaucrats just do what they’re trained to do." And - neighbors as described here will always be with us.

SugarOwl's picture
SugarOwl

I would absolutely complain about all the extra noise. You seem blinded by the fact that a commercial operation (loud delivery trucks, reverberating commercial equipment) is in a residential neighborhood. You have greatly underestimated what those can do. Also, something else you pointed out, they had employees who did not live in their city which was illegal. Kudos to them to working out of their home though. Here in my state we can't have employees, it has to be us. No commercial equips allowed either. A neighbor complained about a few palms dying in our yard that he parks his car under. The city came out and I had to hold my noise-terrified child while they cut them down during nap time. I absolutely gave both of them heck. Just because you are making artisan products doesn't give you a license to disturb others or not follow the rules.

VRini's picture
VRini

I take Jon at his word that noise wasn't an issue. Again - no vibrations from any equipment like the dough mixer and the bread slicer. The delivery truck presence was minimized to only load product at the residence garage for delivery to market and packaging which was done at another site - maybe 3 visits per week to the residence. The truck was parked at the packaging site. This minimization was done to address the neighbor's concerns.

If you watch the video, you'll learn that Jon and Amanda are the parents of a special needs child. Their daughter has been recently diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia, a rare genetic disorder for which this country has a total of two specialists who can oversee their daughter's care. On the youtube channel she appears in two videos. No, sensitivity to noise doesn't seem to be an issue with her as it is with your child. But her condition makes this setback for Jon and Amanda all the more troubling.

And yes the issue of employees at the cottage business from outside the city is why they have to move, but again - they always knew the day would come when the business would outgrow their house. They needed 18 months to make this transition on their own and they're being given 4 months to move the business and that's why they are asking for help.