Putting bread on the table

·3 min read

Aug. 21—PLATTSBURGH — It was eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic when Chris Shutts opened his next chapter: Plattsburgh Sourdough Co.

Months prior, the global health crisis rattled the service industry and Shutts, an employee at a local restaurant, was one of millions of job casualties nationwide.

"The restaurant let me go, so I used my little savings to open this place up," he said. "I really didn't have any other options. Nobody was hiring."

'PLATTSBURGH IS HUNGRY'

Plattsburgh Sourdough Co., a grab-and-go bakery on U.S. Avenue in the City of Plattsburgh, celebrated its opening day Dec. 3, 2020.

More than half a year later, Shutts said business was good.

"Plattsburgh is hungry for new stuff," he said. "I've heard from a lot of customers that they definitely appreciate having 'a real bakery' in town, whatever that means."

With one kitchen helper and his Aunt Ceil behind the counter, Shutts bakes and sells breads, bagels and sweets, like cookies, carrot cake, apple fritters and his signature cinnamon buns.

GRANDMA'S BREAD

Shutts said one of his bread recipes belonged to his late Grandma Rita.

"My father's mother," he said. "I model my white bread after hers. That's my gold standard — she was pretty famous for her white bread."

All of his aunts and uncles, who say it tastes like the family's late matriarch, visit the storefront to buy the bread, at times purchasing extra to share with friends.

"Even my one aunt who was the only one who could make it like (grandma) did says, 'It's as close as you can get.'"

And when he's not baking Grandma Rita's white bread, Shutts said he still tries to bake "like how our grandmother's used to."

"Nothing is from a mix; I make everything from scratch," he said. "I even bake the apples for my apple fritters."

BAGELS, BAGELS, BAGELS

Bagels made the shop's "best sellers" lists.

About 12 dozen sit fresh each morning, flavors like plain, salt, sesame, poppy, everything and newly-added spicy everything. A sweet bagel, either cinnamon raisin, blueberry or cranberry, is rotated into the mix, as well.

Shutts, a mainly self-taught baker, learned how to make the ring-shaped delicacy while working at a bakery in Colorado.

Though he doesn't call them "New York-style" bagels, he said they're made using the same technique.

"Sometime mid-day, I'll mix the dough then shape them and then refrigerate them overnight, so that they get a little skin on them," he said. "Then, in the morning, I put the bagel water on and pull them out for a half-an-hour to rise a little bit. Then they get boiled, drained, seeded or topped, and then baked."

The process takes about 24 hours, though, Shutts noted, "a lot of (making) bread is waiting."

Plattsburgh Sourdough Co. flavors and whips cream cheeses, too.

Outside of plain, veggie, jalapeno, roasted red pepper, dill pickle and green olive are among the possibilities.

ON THE BACKBURNER

Patrons can't get their bagel toasted and topped with cream cheese on-site, though.

Shutts said doing so would cause his goods to be taxed differently.

A bigger space, more employees and an updated point-of-sale (POS) system were other obstacles to consider, he said.

"I would like to grow into something more restaurant-y, add breakfast sandwiches, lunch, but, as it stands, I'm really happy with this kind of model," he said.

"It's totally doable. It's just on the backburner for right now."

Email McKenzie Delisle:

mdelisle@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @McKenzieDelisle