Common Market Oakwold is filled with smells — fresh brewed coffee, homemade soups and more than a dozen different beers on tap. But step outside and you might catch a hint of another aroma — fresh-baked bread. Verdant Bread moved into a storefront behind Common Market Oakwold in June 2019, and has been filling the air with the sweet smell of sourdough since.
The bakery started a few years prior, initially as a shared hobby between co-founders Jaymin McAffrey and Tanner Fink. The two met while working in restaurants in Davidson, including Kindred and The Pickled Peach.
“We met through the service industry,” McAffrey told Charlotte Five. “Tanner would come to The Pickled Peach on his lunch break, and we would geek out about bread.”
The two identified a shared love for baking bread — classic, old world breads in particular — and got to baking. For years, they baked whenever and wherever they could find a kitchen — their own homes, a commissary kitchen at Sweet Spot CL, and Project 658 among these temporary homes. “It was a testing time to make sure we loved what we were doing,” Fink said. “We were working at Kindred ’til midnight and back in the kitchen baking at 5 am”
“We were each working two full-time jobs,” McAffrey added. “We had 32 cast iron combo cookers — it was only time consuming.”
growing a business
It turns out that the pair loved baking bread. Equally important, Charlotteans loved eating it. Verdant’s “launch” was at a Christmas popup in December 2017 at Hex Coffee. The team credits this event with proving they could make it as bakers.
Since then, the bakery has grown to a team of five, anchored by an impressive wholesale program. In fact, you might have eaten Verdant’s bread without knowing it — at 158 On Main, Goodyear House, Kindred, Lincoln Street, Pickled Peach, STIR or VANA.
“Wholesale accounts for 75-80% of our business,” McAffrey said. “We’ve got some loyal customers, and we keep our menu simple. We’ve made wholesale the cornerstone so that we can also grow our business to individuals.”
The pair credits Kindred for teaching them lots about both food and business. “Kindred was very supportive of us,” Fink said. “And they taught us how to be good stewards of the people we have.”
Verdant is growing slowly, yet intentionally. It introduced a gluten-free bread around Thanksgiving 2021. “There’s so much terrible gluten-free bread out there,” McAffrey said. “We don’t want to sell anything we’re not proud of.”
Excellence in Baking
Geeking out over bread may seem confusing — until you spend a few minutes with Fink and McAffrey in the bakery. They discuss feeding the leven, building dough and cold fermenting overnight. They talk about how temperamental bread can be. McAffrey talks about growing the business organically, one step at a time and shining a light on grains. Fink mentions finding joy in something as simple as scoring baguettes.
The friendship between the two — and their shared dedication to excellence — are evident. While the bakery is relatively young, the reverence for the art of bread baking is obvious. Verdant sources many of its ingredients from two in-state millers: Carolina Ground Flour in Hendersonville and Lindley Mills in Graham — a tenth generation flour mill established in 1755 that was home to the Battle of Lindley’s Mill in 1781.
Today, individuals can purchase bread through a subscription program, as walkup customers or at either Matthews Community Farmers’ Market or Uptown Farmers Market. “We love the farmer’s markets,” McAffrey said. “It gives you a real appreciation for doing things the hard way.” Farmer’s markets happen to be where customers can find the widest variety of breads baked by Verdant.
Amid the growth, the bakery is welcoming new customers weekly. Next time you’re in Oakhurst, stop by Verdant and take a whiff — you might just find a new favorite bakery.
Location: 4410 Monroe Rd Suite C, Charlotte, NC 28205
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 9:30 am-3 pm for preorder or walk-up
This story was originally published May 9, 2022 6:00 AM.