I have a Baked In Telluride t-shirt. Like many, I have been stopped in remote regions of the world while wearing that shirt because another traveler, who probably resided across the globe, had not only been to Telluride, but to Baked In Telluride.
BIT is, and always has been, a no fuss, no frills eatery that has the ability of making everyone who walks through its door, or chats on its porch, a part of the place.
Fitting to its character, Baked In Telluride, reopened unceremoniously Sunday, June 12, to a line of loyal customers at 5:30 a.m. The oldest restaurant in Telluride, first opened its doors to the public in 1977. After 34 years of consistently serving affordable food and drink to local residents and tourists alike, the Bakery burned to the ground on February 9, 2010.
Its future was uncertain for a period of months, before the decision was made to rebuild the iconic institution with the cooperation of the landowners, the Zoline family; the Town of Telluride; bakery owner Jerry Greene, and his insurer Allied Insurance. After a relatively short 16 months, a cleaner, more spacious and well-lit BIT is open for business.
The consistent traffic in and out of the bakery Sunday, and the excited chatter about the new building, illustrated the sincere joy loyal customers felt as they returned to a place that has been a steadfast institution in the community for over three decades.
The new building is reminiscent in many ways to the old, down to the same lettering on the front facade, but, it’s simply a lot prettier. Once inside, the differences are vast, specifically the open feeling and downpour of natural light.
Peter Sante, the project’s architect, explained how he achieved the design.
“We made a clear span structure. There are no internal columns. We achieved [this] with metal trusses – parallel, cord steel trusses – that are able to span 40 feet quite easily. We wanted to get as much light, openness and volume. Why it seems so dramatically different is there is no attic feeling that separates the roof space.
“We installed eight skylights that are larger than normal,” he added. “It’s a pleasant space – the natural light gets in and plays on the trusses and on the baked goods at different times during the day.”
By Monday, Sante had already eaten at the bakery twice.
“It’s an indulgence to sit in the dining room and watch people as they walk in door,” he said. “Their expressions are saying enough for me.”
Although the interior is gorgeous, Greene and I chose to sit on the front porch Sunday afternoon to talk about the morning opening. He had been up since 1 a.m.. and his gaze shifted as he tried to take in everything around him and answer my questions at the same time. He seemed giddy, not like a little kid, but like a seasoned adult who was finally reunited with a place that gives him purpose.
To Greene, even with its clean façade, skylights and open floor plan, the bakery is the same place, with the same culture and food.
“In the old shop, the object was to make it better bit by bit, and it’s the same,” he said.
But, with a little prodding, he elaborated on his favorite improvements.
“The new space is not crowded, it’s appropriately organized … but the best improvement? All the new equipment [specifically] the meat and cheese slicer. I was using it this morning to make the ham and cheese croissants—it cut precisely every time.”
Greene’s happiness was not just thanks to his new slicers. Yes, he was glad to be back to work, but more importantly to be able to offer many of his former employees their jobs again.
“I was flattered that many people were waiting for me to reopen to come back to work,” he said. He estimates he has a little fewer than 20 employees currently working, but is aiming to have around 35 by the peak of the summer.
As important as the labor Sunday morning was the fruits of the labor, which many hanging out at the bakery were excited to take advantage of.
“I made the largest sized batch of raised doughnuts that we make and they were gone early,” Greene said.
Marki Knopp, a Telluride resident since the mid-’80’s, stood in front admiring the building.
“It looks phenomenal, I’m very exited” she said, “I can grab a bagel, and I’m looking forward to the two for one doughnuts after 2 o’clock… the pizza and the matzoh ball soup.”
Pizza, doughnuts and bagels seemed to win the day as far as most anticipated items, but the symbolic nature of the bakery was not lost, even on a group of middle-school aged kids hanging out on the porch.
“It’s kind of a symbol of Telluride,” 12-year old Quillen Kimleigh said, then added, “and I like the pizza a lot.”
Friend and cohort Sam Finger quipped, “I’m most excited … because it’s a historical part of Telluride and it’s good to have it back. I also enjoy their food.”
And, for Greene, pressed again to name his favorite improvement?
“I’m open,” he said.
Not only is he open, but in time for the Bluegrass Festival, as, he noted, Kathy Green, the building contractor from BONE construction, confidently promised all along.
And, I bet, in addition to bagels and pizza, Greene will sell a lot of Baked In Telluride t-shirts this weekend. We’ll see them around town … and who knows where else in the world.