As local couple Ian Conover and Tara Williams were biking through Sweden last summer, they became enamored by the culture of knowing exactly who was making their bread and how it was made. They were inspired to bring that experience to Sonoma.
Upon arriving home, they decided to launch a business baking fresh bread daily and delivering it to people locally.
The couple, who are engaged to be married in June, both grew up in Sonoma County and settled in Sonoma three years ago.
Conover enrolled in culinary school at Santa Rosa Junior College in 2016. He left his most recent job in the business, working as a prep cook at Girl and The Fig in Sonoma, to launch their fresh-bread enterprise: Relax Eat Bread.
Williams both teaches full time at Sonoma Charter School and supports the business by managing orders, marketing and customer operations in her off hours. So what makes Relax Eat Bread more relaxing than typical bread options?
For one, the business is licensed with a certified “cottage home food” permit.
“We are doing this solely on our own because we believe that bread should be handmade, quality and fresh,” said Conover.
Each loaf of bread is handmade, shaped and baked by Conover and delivered that same morning. Each loaf is $6, and they deliver for free to any address in Sonoma Valley, Santa Rosa, Petaluma and downtown Napa. They have begun to offer weekly standing orders for customers by request.
Conover has always had a passion for bread baking and while working in kitchens he realized that there was a need for quality bread that was made fresh and accessible to all who wanted it.
Williams is in charge of their Facebook page, along with their website (relaxandeatbread.com), which serve as the primary source of contact and marketing for the business. The rest is word of mouth.
“It’s so sweet,” says one of their first customers, Molly Koller, who also works at Sonoma Charter and who tested samples Williams would bring to work as the business was just getting started. “I tried some and found my favorite, the Sourdough Semolina, and now I have a standing order for two loaves a week.”
Explains Williams: “We began with four loaves a day to try it out and see if anyone would buy it, selling to our friends and local people we knew and within a few months we were baking a dozen loaves a day, Monday through Friday.”
Semolina Sourdough is their most popular loaf. They currently offer three types of bread, semolina, seeded and rye, all are sourdough based.
The loaves arrive wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string. Sometimes they are delivered by bike and sometime by car. They are baked the same day and Conover messages the customer when they will arrive.
“And they arrive still warm,” said Koller gleefully. When she doesn’t rip right into a loaf and eat some on the spot, Koller slices the bread and serves it as an appetizer, usually with with goat cheese and fig jam.
“Best of all, I don’t have to go to the store,” she said.
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