Located at the corner of East Main Street and 1st Avenue North, the Franklin Bakehouse is quickly becoming a favorite eatery for many Franklin residents and visitors. It is a dining concept born out of a love for food—and a love for traveling. Proprietor Angie Muir, who co-founded the business with her husband Bill, was influenced by the magic of walking into such bakehouses and markets during their trips to Italy. Seeing a village of people excited to buy fresh baked goods overseas, Angie felt that such a market should be available for the visitors and residents of downtown Franklin.
“It’s always been front-and-center in my life as a child… My mother was a caterer, my step-father was a caterer, my brother is a chef,” Angie explains. While she originally intended to follow in the footsteps of her family, she actually ended up enlisting in the military and didn’t get to make much food. After completing her career in the military and her graduate studies, Angie returned to Franklin in 2000.
She says, “The very first thing that my husband and I noticed about Franklin was—just first of all—what a great community it was, and how quaint the town was. But we thought that… it could use a little market. One that felt a little different.”
Angie’s dream of operating such a market was put on hold for nearly two decades, as she and her husband focused on raising three kids. However, with the children all out of the house as of 2019, she felt that the time was right for her to see her business idea realized.
“We really wanted it to feel like a European market and bakery,” Angie says. “We wanted that to be the aesthetic of the store.”
The bakehouse had already started construction before the pandemic, and the team weathered delays. But Angie was not deterred by COVID-19, as she felt that she had waited long enough. She had enough faith in herself, her business, and her community to support her. So, she opened her doors to Franklin in September—and so far has enjoyed a steady stream of business.
Playing off of the meaning of the term “convenience store,” the bakehouse’s website shows a company that is a mix of things. They are a tiny market first—and one stocked full of upper-end pantry staples and specialty food products. However, they also have tables where guests can sit, and a bar for serving drinks, meaning that they may fit what many expect from a bistro. In total, they have 30 seats for guests along 1st Avenue North and East Main Street, and another 30 seats inside the bakehouse.
While they serve breakfast items, the Franklin Bakehouse isn’t a “breakfast place” per se, as the Bakehouse is “bread-centric.” The breakdown of the menu offers both morning food with a European flair—just-from-the-oven pastries every morning, which means muffins, scones, croissants, and brioche buns—and a lunch menu, with a separate brunch selection just for Sundays. As regards lunch, the bakehouse’s menu changes over to a deli, with baguette sandwiches and soups or grain salads changing daily.
It should be noted that the times for the afternoon and evening menus presently overlap. Regarding the latter menu, the Bakehouse is in the process of rolling out additional items. Currently, the menu features an evening bar of various wines, six taps representing local breweries, a variety of beers, and edible selections including a charcuterie for two people. Angie says that the Bakehouse is working on being able to offer pot pies and English beef pies for the Evening menu.
There are other menus as well, including the holiday menu featuring festive cakes and cookies sold as appetizers or gifts (with orders needing to be placed by December 19th). There’s also a separate bread menu, with over 20 different breads available. The bread is prepared by Master Bread Baker for the Franklin Bakehouse Randy Thompson. Before being recruited by his new employer, Randy was the proprietor of Franklin House of Bread, which he operated for five years. As a member of the Franklin Bakehouse team, Randy is able to make bread for the community, including the neighboring Harpeth Hotel’s 1799 Kitchen and Cocktails. These breads range in flavor, from a smoked jalapeno, to a cheddar roasted garlic, and rosemary to a polenta and pumpkin seed loaf.
“Randy’s a unique guy,” Angie states. “He has mastered sourdough. And what makes him unique—what makes him… essentially earn that title of “master bread maker”—is the nuance to his bread. What I mean by that is he takes the sour mash that’s left over after the distilling process from the Leiper’s Fork Distillery; once everything happens in the kettle, there’s a byproduct that’s left at the bottom of the kettle after the whiskey is distilled.” Angie says that this byproduct, which is essentially spent grain, is used by Randy to create the simple mixture of a wheat flour, water, and a leavening agent (known as a sourdough starter). Angie tells Launch Engine that this is what makes his bread unique to Franklin, since it’s a locally-sourced product made from another locally-sourced product.
The Bakehouse is also getting into the events space. They’ve just started offering after-hours dinner parties and some small baking classes to teach the community about making baked goods at home. Long term, the Bakehouse actually plans on doing more classes, so long as they have the space to do so.
Speaking of space, the Bakehouse also plans to enlarge their space along 1st Avenue North to add room for more events such as cooking classes. Angie says, “We’ll have the opportunity to do much more of those types of things.” The possibilities of this include traditional or experimental cooking classes, food demos of different brands selected by the Franklin Bakehouse team, and other food-focused events centered around creating desserts or meals.