black bear bread
A neighborhood bakery obsessed with getting it right.
Know what the number one question Emerald Coast locals get asked all the time?
“Where’s a great place to eat?”
Here’s a shortcut: Black Bear Bread Company. It’s locally owned and operated, puts a special emphasis on using local products, serves breakfast and lunch (and dinner at the Bar Room), and the chefs have a genuine obsession when it comes to baking bread.
Like a lot of great ideas on 30A, the idea of this neighborhood bakery happened while two friends were hanging out on the beach together. Dave Rauschkolb and Phillip McDonald share a passion for food and surfing. And, while waiting for waves, the two would often reminiscence about the types of food they loved to eat and what they wished they could find on 30A. You know, like a place to meet a friend for coffee and a croissant, get a bagel with lox, order a special homemade cake, or pick up freshly baked bread on the way home.
Once the seed for a neighborhood bakery was planted, Phillip began baking test breads—which accidentally led to the name. It turns out the local black bears who live in the Point Washington State Forest enjoy a good sourdough roll as much as the next human does. After Phillip and Dave saw a pair stealing test breads that had been tossed into the dumpster, they agreed Black Bear Bread Company was perfect for a neighborhood bakery.
The first bakery opened in Grayton Beach in 2016. Rave reviews and lines that extended out the door led to the opening of The Bar Room next door. In 2020 Black Bear Bread Co. opened a second bakery in Grand Boulevard, and in 2021 Black Bear Bread Co. opened its third location in Seaside.
At the center of Black Bear’s success is the sheer love for naturally leavened, fermented bread. Chef Phil has such appreciation for sourdough bread that he speaks in a reverent tone when asked about it. For him, bread is not just bread. It is a living, nutrient-dense food that deserves respect. And he’s not alone in his near obsession. Black Bear’s former baker Debbie Swenerton was a semifinalist for the 2019 James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Baker!
You see, sourdough is not like the bread sold en masse at the grocery store. It’s easier to digest and does not cause a spike in insulin. It’s also lower in gluten than other types of bread, high in vitamins, minerals, and prebiotics. The starter, or mother, for sourdough is a mixture of wild yeast, bacteria, flour, and water. The same mother can be used for years. Chef Phil said he has been using one mother for five years, and Baker Debbie used a 60-year-old mother that she gifted Black Bear.
“I’d love to see more people incorporate our bread into their daily lives. For their school lunches, all of my kids’ sandwiches use our sourdough bread. It’s delicious and so much better for you than what’s sold in grocery stores.”
Throughout the week the bread menu includes:
Country sourdough, multigrain sourdough, fruit and nut sourdough, miche, and baguettes
And a host of fantastic pastries that transforms mature adults into excited 7 year olds.
Speaking of those pastries, in addition to deliciousness like sea salt chocolate chip cookies, or cinnamon rolls oozing with homemade icing, Black Bear offers custom bakery orders for specialty cakes and treats.
Salads made with local greens, tartines, grass fed roast beef on sourdough, champagne and oysters, and charcuterie boards are all popular menu items and a new in-house coffee is being added this year. Black Bear will continue pouring Stumptown Coffee, but has created a Dawn Patrol Blend, roasted by Good Citizen Coffee in Nashville.
Customers can also order ahead for pick up at Grayton Beach and Grand Boulevard locations through the website, which we highly recommend during the busy summer season.
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