Forego a plane ticket to Europe and enjoy the tastes of Italy, France, Denmark and Iceland in Chehalis’ own Market Street Bakery.
Wearner completed his culinary training at what is currently Le Cordon Bleu College in 1998. He went on to intern as a baker in Iceland. “My father-in-law is one-hundred percent Icelandic. I brought back one of my friends to help open the bakery,” said Wearner.
Wearner is soft-spoken, calm and composed. He gets excited about little things, like finally receiving a calendar from Puratos, his bakery supplier. “Puratos is all over the world. I was using their product in Iceland,” Wearner said.
His customers come from near and far. “You’d be surprised how many people come driving from Seattle to Portland. They discover us and then make us a stop. I’ve had a lot of people from other countries come in who know someone who’s been in,” Wearner said.
He also attracts customers wanting vinábraud, one of his Icelandic pastries.
“The filled croissants and sourdough are very popular,” he said.
People come to Market Street Bakery for fresh bread, dessert treats, a panini sandwich, or to enjoy a beverage. “It’s a real mystery to me when people decide to come here. I still don’t have a solid theory on why we’re busy one day versus another. I randomly run out of some items, and others run out at the same time. It’s always crazy during the holidays because they revolve around food. Graduation times and summer weddings are busy times for special-order cakes,” said Wearner.
Of the many things Wearner produces, he most enjoys making bread. He provides bread for several Chehalis businesses. He bakes focaccia for Jeremy’s Farm to Table, sourdoughs for Joy’s Once Upon a Thyme, and most of the pastries for Fiddler’s Coffee. In fact, he makes special scones, only sold at Fiddler’s. “The Shire uses baguettes of mine and Riverside Golf Course is going to start using us for bread,” said Wearner.
With two helpers in the back and a rotating staff of three to four in the front, Wearner tries “to max out” the staff that he has. “Everyone is cross-trained, for the most part, so we can do each other’s jobs. I have two other people who help in the kitchen that I trained,” Wearner said.
Dixie Pittman is one of the versatile counter help, who was hired in August 2015. “I already knew Crista, the front manager. I wanted to work here because it seemed like a fun place to work,” said Pittman.
Besides balancing owning a business and being conscientious about the people he employs, Wearner’s family time is the most precious to him. “There’s a lot to juggle. I have oodles of projects at home to chip away at. I have to spread myself out. It’d be great to put all my focus on the bakery, but it’s not realistic,” Wearner said.
In order to keep the bakery functioning, and to fulfill the needs of the various eateries that use his products, he preps ahead.
“We don’t very often take much time off. A week is manageable. Two weeks is hard. Some of the time, I can prep ahead, otherwise, I double-up,” Wearner explained. “I sail through and try to keep up.”
Wearner’s roots run deepest in Lewis County. “I rarely lived anywhere more than three years before I got here. My wife, Lisa, is from here. I got married just before we went to Iceland. In May 2016, we will celebrate fourteen years. My oldest daughter was born a month after we opened,” recalled Wearner.
Market Street Bakery provides free wi-fi service that attracts both students
and business people wanting a quiet space to work. “People will literally stay here the whole day using wi-fi,” Wearner said.
Wearner, on the other hand, spends his days in “the cave” making pastries, soups, breads and desserts so many have come to love. A good day for him is “when everything goes right.”
Market Street Bakery
492 N. Market Blvd in Chehalis
Open Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.