Flint, MI—Despite the first snow of the season and what food service manager John Rigg called a “quiet opening,” the Carriage Town Bakery soft launch saw a steady stream of customers ordering donuts for dozen on the morning of November 15, 2022.
The bakery at 604 Garland St. grew out of the success of Blueline Donuts, a business arm of Carriage Town Ministries’ work that provides low-cost, transitional employment to shelter residents and other members of the homeless community.
“This has been a dream since we started making donuts,” Rigg said, perched on a low-backed white stool at the bakery’s new countertop. “The vision is to give our transitioning employees a place to gain retail skills.”
Blueline launched in 2017 and has slowly grown into a retail and wholesale provider of donuts for Flint and Genesee County. Then Carriage Town Ministries decided to open a separate bakery across the street from the organization’s main building, finalizing the deal just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“That’s actually what stopped this whole project,” said Nic Gatlin, Director of Human Relations and Operations for Carriage Town Ministries. “Just COVID, and the way the construction world went with it.”
Rigg noted that there has been “a bit of confusion” around the name of the space since construction began, which helped clarify the aromas of glazed donuts and hot coffee.
“We named the building the Carriage Town Bakery, but we sell Blueline Donuts,” he explained, adding that the team wanted the building’s name to leave room to expand beyond donuts and its current hours of operation.
“As we ramp up the baking side, we’ll probably stay open longer to also serve baked goods — pies and muffins,” Riggs said, pointing to shelves of apple pie muffins on display in a bright, glass-doored cooler. He also said they would be rotating some offerings, including bagels, in the near future.
Carriage Town Bakery’s current hours are 7 am to 12:30 pm Monday through Friday until January 10, 2023 when a grand opening event will take place and hours may change.
Gatlin also noted that more equipment will be installed, including additional display cases and an espresso machine, which his partners at Foster Coffee Company will train bakery staff to use.
“We just want to get it going,” Rigg said of why the team decided to open even as they wait for the finishing touches to arrive. The team choice looked good as Rigg looked around a funky, funky bakery full of customers and Gatlin shook hands with a family of newcomers.
“So, in turn, we are thanking the public for their patience,” Rigg concluded. “Like all of us, Carriage Town Bakery is a work in progress.”