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A sense of community permeates Bend far more than any other town that boosts nearly 100,000 residents. The absence of stoplights and zooming traffic, the children seen riding their bikes on the sidewalk trails that are a regular feature nearly on every corner and a new breed of dog with just about every person you pass. But without a doubt, part of Bend’s charm is the feel of a small town with the wealth of opportunities that many large cities offer.
Upon arriving in Bend just four months ago, I was eager to be part of my neighborhood. And seeking a similar coffee and pastry regular respite whether it be to type away on the blog or simply enjoy a book or a conversation with a friend as I had found in Walla Walla, I happened upon The Sparrow Bakery located in Northwest Crossing. In fact, one of my first Instagram pics after settling in was the one you see below of the industrial interior design found when you step inside the door of this delightfully community-oriented, lively space. The simple fact that it only took a few months to feel a part of the neighborhood, speaks to the small, yet convivial nature of Bend.
Situated next to a mere handful of other restaurants (be sure to visit Portello for a night of sipping wine with friends or a date) and shops, as well as being located on the street of the summer farmer’s market that is abundant with produce, music and wares each Saturday, its locale offers an intimate gathering spot for neighbors, family and colleagues. It is also conveniently located along the road that takes me to Shevlin Park, one of the boys and mine’s favorite hiking destinations. Therefore, it is not a rare occasion to stop off at The Sparrow Bakery to pick up a warm croissant after hiking for an hour or two. An even sweeter treat to savor to be sure.
Quickly, the bakery has become a weekly stop of mine, and I am beginning to see similar faces, neighbors and co-workers. So when I received an invitation to collaborate with The Sparrow Bakery, I was keen to be introduced to the owners Whitney and Jess and discover exactly how they came to become such an established and enjoyed bakery destination in only nine short years.
It’s important to note that the original location on Scott Street on the east side has been opened since 2006, but the Northwest Crossing space (which is seen in today’s post) is celebrating its first anniversary this month. As I spoke with Jess about the growth of the bakery, she made it clear they had projected primarily a dividing up of their customer base — one bakery on the east side and now one on the west side. Well, they hit this mark and then some because the reality was much more fortuitous.
With the large, open space and ample outdoor as well as indoor seating, there are few weekends I have stepped inside (and it has been nearly every weekend) and not discovered every table occupied complete with a line from the counter to the door. Oh, and rest-assured dog-lovers, there will always be at least a handful of pups outside with their owners or waiting patiently to complete their walk. The bustling inside and out only lends to the charm as a table always becomes available just in time as it is with beloved bakeries: some customers are dropping in after a walk while others are catching up with a friend and still others just want to be a part of something welcoming, delicious and locally inspired.
With the primary goal of cultivating a space where customers feel at home, welcomed and remembered by the staff, Jess and Whitney’s family is not only growing in their personal lives (they welcomed twin boys Abel and Brooks just under a year ago into their lives), but in their business world as well. A testament to their success is that they rely solely on word of mouth electing not to advertise. And if the success of the second bakery is any indication, their approach is one for others to follow. Let the food and the atmosphere do the talking for you.
Below are a few answers from Jess to help customers discover the talent behind the bakeries:
Just about any Christmas movie
Into the Wild by Jon Krakaeur
Best advice you have ever received:
“Life’s tough. It’s all about compromise and digging deep.”
Bucket List wish that you still are looking forward to realizing:
Meeting Gordon Ramsay
Why open a bakery?
Family revolves around food.
What has surprised you about owning a bakery?
It is more of a teaching career than a baking career than I expected.
Favorite sandwich that the bakery serves (rest-assured as someone who has tried bites of all of them at one time or another, they are all delicious):
The must-talked about Ocean Roll, Egg Nog (requested beginning in September by customers, the bakery relinquished in October and began serving this seasonal favorite). For the fall/winter season: Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Caramel Pie and Bread Pudding.
A bit of advice for aspiring bakery owners:
~It will change your life
~Be ready to overcome challenges
~Work will inevitably come home with you
~It will stimulate you, and so long as you have energy and balance, you will see you will be able to do anything
Recommended place to visit in Bend (besides The Sparrow Bakery):
I want to thank Jess and Whitney as well as their staff for inviting me into the bakery and behind the counter. A few extra items I highly recommend you try when you stop in are the afternoon chouquettes (only served in the afternoon after 3pm, the ideal simple, sweet treat), as you will see in my Instagram pics below I tend to gravitate toward their classic croissants, but for a complete meal you will love their quiche-du-jour and bacon breakfast sandwich. But don’t forget the breads and other pastries. In fact, The Sparrow Bakery has graciously shared their recipe for Banana Bread. Have a look at the end of the post.
Oh, and it was mentioned during the interview that a happy hour could be coming soon, so be sure to stay tuned. Enjoy a tour of the bakery and all of the baked goods below.
~a glimpse at the menu and have a look at the entire list of breakfast and lunch items here.
~just a few of the instances in which sweet treats from The Sparrow Bakery were enjoyed at home as shared on TSLL Instagram~
Banana Bread from The Sparrow Bakery (Bend, Oregon)
- 7 Ripe Bananas
- 4 Eggs
- 1 cup Canola Oil
- 2 cup Sugar
- 2 tsp Vanilla Ext.
- Pinch Nutmeg
- 2½ cup AP Flour
- ½ tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Baking Soda
Directions (as written by Whitney & Jess):
This bread is very popular at our bakery and at the farmer’s market during the summer; we typically sell 150 loaves a week! I believe you will find it is an excellent gift, and perfect for company: try it for breakfast, snack, and even dessert! Some of my customers use this banana bread to make French toast, some smear it with cream cheese!
It is very important to use ripe or even brown bananas, (sometimes, if you ask, the grocer will give you brown bananas they cannot sell!). Mash your bananas using a potato masher until they are pulverized (can’t over mash). Then beat your eggs together and add oil, sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg. Mix these “wet” ingredients and add them to your bananas. Mix. Measure out the flour, salt, and soda and sift them together. Incorporate your dry ingredients into your wet using a stiff whisk. Once I feel my ingredients are well incorporated I like to stick my hands into the batter and check for clumps of flour I missed. Don’t underestimate the fun of this step – children will enjoy getting their hands wet and if there are no little ones around don’t deny yourself the pleasure! Once your batter is mixed heavily spray two loaf pans with pan-spray and evenly distribute your batter between the pans.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 325º for one hour. When you remove the bread from the oven immediately sprinkle it with a healthy amount of raw sugar. Let cool completely before removing from the pan – it may help to run a metal edged spatula around the edges of the pan before knocking out the bread. Enjoy it!
Mon-Fri 7am – 5:00pm; Sat-Sun 7am – 3:00pm
Bend OR 97701
Mon-Sat: 7am – 2:00pm; Sun: 8am – 2:00pm
~THOUGHTS FROM THE EDITOR posts from the Archives:
~All images captured by TSLL