The very first thing that delights the senses when you open the door to “The Warehouse – Commissary & Catering” is the heavenly aroma of baking bread. That’s a phenomenal start, because when one of the smiling bakers greets you, it just gets better and better.
As you pass down the hallway from an enormous bread oven, you’ll notice colorful freshly harvested veggies and seasonal fruit displayed much like a mini roadside farm-stand. Behind the counter, rustic crates and galvanized containers overflow with a cornucopia of bread and a fragrant assortment of croissants and rolls.
The Warehouse is the brainchild of Chef Cody Utzman (of Frankie’s Restaurant in North Albany, and two-time winner of the cooking show Chopped). It opened with a soft launch in early September. However, the official grand opening will take place on Saturday October 27th in conjunction with Albany’s Downtown trick or treat event. (See event details below in the “Grand Opening” section.)
Warehouse bakers Lupe Alvarez, Ian Anderson, and Lydia Short, produce several hundred loaves of bread per week in addition to approximately 200 hand-layered butter croissants, Danish, scones, muffins and other assorted pastries. They craft their daily bread selections with locally sourced grains and flours from Camas Country Mill, and varieties include whole grain honey oat, seeded whole grain, white Italian, and focaccia topped with seasonal vegetables and feta cheese. There’s often a wild-card weekly special where the baking team exhibit their creative skills with honey-lavender wheat loaves or savory Kalamata olive and rosemary fougasse.
What may well be their showstopper is The Warehouse’s slow-fermented sourdough bread—shaped into chubby ovals and rounds with thick golden split crusts or elegant baguettes. This special sourdough is one that many gluten-intolerant individuals can enjoy without upset. The Warehouse sourdough is produced on Wednesdays and Saturdays and rivals any found along San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. The kitchen’s slow-fermentation process is part of the team’s overall mission to produce artisanal breads that are healthy and reflect their holistic view of community.
Lunch crowds welcome
In addition to the incredible array of baked goods prepared for both wholesale and retail, The Warehouse is open Monday through Friday, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for walk-in lunch-time traffic. Since there are no chairs, this is a “grab and go” retail outlet to pick up tasty pre-prepared sandwiches and chef’s salads by Chef Nichole Wooley, Bodhi fresh-squeezed juices, and Authentic Meals’ snacks and meals for lunch or dinner. There’s also an assortment of just-picked salad greens, seasonal veggies, sprouts, and other produce from local Camron Ridge Farmstead.
Commissary kitchen defined
The concept of The Warehouse is that in addition to its core bakery and catering business, it will act as a community resource. The team offers commercial kitchen rental to entrepreneurs and food producers who may not have their own licensed facilities.
Utzman is dedicated to following a “farm to table” model in every business endeavor he is involved in. The Warehouse’s Managing Coordinator Emily Vasey, fulfilled a similar dream when she started working for Utzman at Frankie’s several years ago. Vasey has over 20 years experience in the restaurant industry but was yearning for work that fostered a local and sustainable community concept.
Moving from Frankie’s to The Warehouse has been a natural integration of values for everyone involved, and Vasey remains centered in the kitchen coordinating the many revolving parts that support the commissary’s catering and wholesale needs.
“It’s really exciting that we can give smaller newer food-based businesses like Authentic Meals a home base and can help one another grow,” Vasey said. She noted that Rainshine Family Farm, a local hazelnut grower, will roast nuts in the commissary’s large commercial oven and package them for resale—thus adding value to their raw agricultural product. “We hope to partner with other businesses that need commercial kitchen space,” she added.
The Warehouse currently supplies hand-made pastries, desserts and bread products to several other Albany and Corvallis restaurants, including Universal Coffee Company, First Burger, Frankies, and Castor. They also sell baked goods at both the Albany and Corvallis Farmers’ Markets. Vasey said the Warehouse’s retail space at 315 Lyon St is the perfect spot for local office workers and residents in the surrounding neighborhood to pick up lunch, fresh produce or other items on weekdays.
The Warehouse will hold their official Grand Opening Party on Saturday, October 27th, in conjunction with the Albany Downtown Trick or Treat event, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. All ghouls and boos are invited to the new space for free sweet snacks, spiced apple cider, and family-friendly games.
You can join in on the fun by walking towards the Albany Visitors Association (at 110 3rd St SE), turn south on Lyon, then amble a half block to the alley on the left (between AVA and Willamette Community Bank). The Warehouse will post a sandwich board on Lyon St to point towards their doorway in the alley. Free parking is available along Lyon, 3rd and 4th streets.
Address: 315 Lyon St, Albany OR. Telephone: 541-704-0067 Hours: Monday through Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Website: www.thewarehouse-cc.com
*This blog post was authored by Maddie MacGregor at Albany Visitors Association