It’s been an overwhelming welcome for Bruce Bishop (G87) and Brenda Burg (GFES11) since they opened Newberg Bakery on March 5. Customer demand has been so great the downtown business has started closing earlier because there wasn’t enough product to meet demand. “We knew there was a need, but not at this level,” Bishop says.
Bishop and Burg – who also worked at George Fox as an administrative assistant for 12 years – are at the newly renovated store by 4 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday to mix ingredients and start baking in preparation for a line at the door for the 6 a.m. opening. They now close at 4 p.m., followed by two hours of cleanup and prepping for the next day.
It’s a labor of love for the two longtime friends who met years ago and discovered they both baked as a hobby. They discussed opening a store for years, first jokingly, before taking the idea seriously. Students in a George Fox marketing class assisted by providing research that revealed there was a need for fresh-baked goods in Newberg, which previously had no full-line or artisan bakery.
Pooling their resources – and with the assistance of a successful $30,000 Kickstarter campaign for heavy-duty kitchen equipment funded by 250 supporters – the pair bought a more than 100-year-old building that originally was a movie theater. They spent nearly four months in renovation, aided by dozens of volunteers. The bakery has its kitchen in full view of the customers and has a 1940s-farmhouse kitchen look thanks in part to advisor Bryan Boyd (G96), George Fox professor of theatre, who helped visualize their ideas and draw sketches.
Bishop brings three years as a baker with Bob’s Red Mill to the new business, while Burg honed her skills for nearly 10 years by baking scones each week for students in George Fox’s College of Education, where she worked until leaving the university a year ago. She funded the effort out of pocket and gave the scones away for free. “I just wanted [the students] to feel at home,” she says, “to have a welcoming atmosphere.” She says she began baking by preparing bagels at home when she was about 16.
Bishop started even earlier, in junior high, when he was baking cinnamon rolls and yeasted breads. While in college he got his first experience baking for large groups at Twin Rocks Friends Camp on the Oregon Coast. He gained further expertise by spending time baking at the Coffee Cottage in Newberg. The former student body president went to work with the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends right after graduation, serving for 13 years as youth superintendent, then one year in leadership development before transitioning to communications director from 2001 to 2010.
“We want to be a part of downtown – to contribute to Newberg,” Bishop says. Even though the location has limited parking available, heavy foot traffic contributes to an average of 220 customers a day. Flying out of the display cases are cinnamon rolls, scones, bagels, croissants, breads, cupcakes and slices of cake. At lunch the bakery offers salads, soups and planks of pizza.
Bishop and Burg already have received requests from stores wanting them to supply baked goods to their enterprises. Although they know they could add employees and expand baking hours, so far they have declined. “We want to keep it at this level; we want to be bakers, not staff managers,” Bishop says. “We have a passion for baking.”
Also assisting at the bakery are Brenda’s daughter Regina (Burg) Ankeny (G06) and fellow George Fox alumna Anne-Marie (Bowman) Bracco (G95).