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Stone House

Ross Boissoneau - May 2nd, 2011
One the Rise: Stone House: Café offers two locations and statewide reach
By Ross Boissoneau
There are now two cafés and a host of pastries and beverages available, but making the dough at Stone House Bread is all about, well, making the dough.
And it should be no other way. “It’s all about the bread,” said Toni Spearing, the owner of Stone House Bread.
With a café in Traverse City and one at the original location in Leland, plus the loaves on the shelves of grocery stores throughout the region as well as downstate, those looking for “an honest loaf of bread” have more opportunities than ever to find one.
Spearing and her husband Charlie of Suttons Bay and Annette and Jeff McMullen of Elk Rapids bought Stone House Bread four years ago from Bob Pisor, the downstate newsman turned artisan bread maker. She said the foursome was looking for a small local business with growth potential, and were considering Stone House Bread as one of the options.
Then fate intervened, in the form of repeated interactions with Stonehouse. “We’d run into Bob all the time,” Spearing said. “We’d see him at the store, stocking the shelves, see the (Stone House) van driving around.
“It was meant to be.”

MARKETING MUSCLE
Pisor first introduced the bread in 1995, touting its organic flour, well water, and naturally-occurring yeast, which was made by hand in small batches. Upon purchasing the company, the new owners kept the ingredients and methods established by Pisor, simply opting for more marketing muscle. While Pisor had built the business from the ground up as the region’s first artisan bread, Spearing said there was still great growth potential.
“There wasn’t much sales or marketing, it had just grown on its own,” she said. “That’s my background, so I started contacting stores.”
The result: Now you can find Stone House Bread not only in this area, but across western and central Michigan, in stores from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids to Mount Pleasant and Big Rapids.
Of course, one could easily make the case that the best place to find it is at the original location at 407 S. Main Street in Leland, as well as at 202 E. State in Traverse City, formerly the site of Mustard’s. The two cafés have full menus, as well as those crusty loaves of bread in a variety of shapes, styles and flavors.
The café menu includes breakfast items, again focused on bread. Examples include panini breakfast sandwiches, always a popular choice, according to Richard Och, a baker at the Leland locaton. “A lot of people like the ham and eggs and bacon and eggs sandwiches,” he said.
Then there’s cherry walnut French toast, breakfast strata, or traditional (and scrumptious!) breakfast pastries like cinnamon rolls, pecan rolls, and scones.
Among the most popular lunch items are the turkey panini. “There’s a lot of turkey eaten here,” Och said.
The Traverse City location opened just prior to Cherry Festival last year. Spearing said prior to the cafe’s opening in Traverse City, patrons used to wait hungrily at the farmers markets in Traverse and Elk Rapids for the chance at not only the bread but the rolls, cookies and scones.
“We want them (the cafes) to be the place you go for the things no one else has,” she said.
 
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