Hang onto your chef's hat. The culinary landscape for the 22307 ZIP code is about to shift.
Although its name is Bread & Water Company, don't let the name fool you — the long-awaited cafe at Belle View Shopping Center in Alexandria will offer bread and much more when it opens. It will seat about 30 and also offer outdoor dining on its sidewalk.
The cafe is located at 1512 Belle View Blvd.,
The big question: When is Bread & Water Company opening? "We hope before Memorial Day," says Executive Chef and Manager Shaun McCarty, who was busy overseeing construction details Monday at the site.
Born and raised in Baltimore, McCarty plans on commuting to the cafe. He's used to battling traffic to get to the area — his latest gig was working as the pastry chef for Windows Catering in Old Town Alexandria, just the tip of a long culinary pedigree. (He's also worked with chef Robert Wiedmaier at Brasserie Beck on K Street in DC.)
When the cafe opens, it will offer an assortment of sandwiches, soups, pastries and artisanal breads for starters. Beverages will include beer, wine and Italian (Lavazza) coffee. McCarty said to expect more culinary surprises as the restaurant gets underway.
The cafe will feature some fun offerings such as "build your own macaroon parties," with a variety of fillings for patrons to customize their own flavors. "Down the road, we're going to do wedding cakes and celebratory cookies," McCarty added.
A few key items will stay on the menu and the rest will be "ever-evolving, ever-changing," McCarty said. Key components for the cafe: Keeping it local and eco-friendly, when it comes to the ingredients and the workings of the cafe itself. "We're going to be dealing with a lot of local farmers, the farmers' markets, fish farms up and down the Eastern seaboard," he said.
McCarty is clearly excited about the restaurant, showing off a brand-new five-deck oven (see photo) that can bake 500 baguettes an hour. "We had a gentleman come in from France and we built this together over several days," he noted.
The "dough" part of the bread and pastry production will take place in the restaurant's basement, and will be put on a lift and brought up to the kitchen in the back. "It's a very European style," he said.
McCarty (who will be working for owners Markos and John Panas, who run parent company Sweetbake), is looking to hire a number of employees. (If you know an artisanal bread baker, McCarty is looking for someone.)
Sweetbake hopes to open more Bread & Water Company restaurants in the area "in eight months to a year" once the Belle View location is up and running.