New bakery to decorate downtown Christiansburg
CHRISTIANSBURG — Start with a base of traditional Southern cooking, mix in a heavy dose of French influence and just a dash of a classic courtroom novel, and Christiansburg’s Donna Speaks will tell you that you have the perfect recipe for a bakery in your hands.
In fact, it is the very same blend Speaks used to create The Mockingbird Cafe and Bakery, a breakfast and lunch venue she plans to open next month in downtown Christiansburg.
According to Speaks, the bakery, named after her family’s favorite book, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” will actually kill two birds with one stone by helping her achieve her dream of owning a bakery and providing the downtown area with what she feels is a much-needed business. The bakery is located at 4 W. Main St., across from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
Speaks said the idea of opening her bakery at this location wasn’t originally her own but rather came from the building’s owner, Bob Poff.
Poff said he had known Speaks and her passion for baking for a long time, and when he ran into her at the Draper Mercantile last fall, where she was working, he was struck with an idea.
“I thought, ‘You need to be doing this in Christiansburg,’” Poff said.
Entranced with the idea of bringing a bakery to downtown Christiansburg, Poff approached Speaks about leasing a location he had on West Main Street. The entry to the bakery faces South Franklin Street.
After more than 10 years of working in bakeries owned by others, including Our Daily Bread, Coffee Depot and Draper Mercantile, Speaks decided she wanted to be the one calling the shots and took off with Poff’s idea.
Speaks went to work, quickly finding an experienced co-baker in her 22-year-old daughter, Laura Speaks, and an extra worker in her 25-year-old son, Tyler Speaks, who she says carries mastery of baking sourdough bread.
The new owner’s plan is to transform the near 1000-square-foot space into a bakery that will boast the traditions of French baking, while celebrating what’s good about the southern United States.
When finished, the restaurant will feature a traditional glass display cabinet in the front of the shop and seating for up to 15 people, much of which will be around a 12-seat community table, which Speaks said was very European.
Speaks said the menu will feature many of the traditional foods she grew up with in Southwest Virginia, as well as many of the French-influenced dishes she learned to create during her time working with pastry chef Thierry Tellier at Our Daily Bread.
Those foreign dishes will be highlighted by a variety of macarons, French-layer salad, and Speaks’ hand-laminated croissants.
Speaks’ Southern roots will be represented through items such as pimento cheese sandwiches, a jerk-seasoned pulled-pork sandwich on “Moonshine bread,” and biscuits and gravy, featuring a beef roast-based gravy, one of Speaks’ family traditions.
As for the dash of the dramatic courtroom novel, Speaks said plenty of copies of “To Kill a Mockingbird” will be available throughout the bakery.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643