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Some businesses are born of sentimentality and serendipity. Others come about as a result of taking advantage of a great opportunity.
Daily Baking Company in Port Washington is an example of the latter.
Daniel Ewig was born and raised in Port Washington. After finishing his degree, he moved to New York City, where he has been working as an investment banker since the age of 24. When he caught wind that the Boerner Mercantile building at 211 N. Franklin St., in his hometown was up for sale, he saw it as a great investment opportunity.
The space, which also houses offices, an artist-in-residence program and Zuzu’s Petals boutique, previously housed Sweetheart Cakes. But, as of Sept. 10, it’s home to a new European-style bakery, which serves up daily doses of bread, croissants and other artisan baked goods.
"I wanted a business that was complimentary to the other businesses – and not a restaurant," Ewig tells me. "I’m a bread guy. I go to every bakery in New York. I love it and I pay attention. The smell, the sights and being in that environment – it was something I wanted to recreate."
Living in New York, Ewig has trolled the likes of world class bakeries like Bouchon and Francois Payard Patisserie. And that is the type of venue he sought to create.
"My sense is that, if we were going to do it, we wanted to do it right," he says. "There’s a theme happening - that people really care about what they’re eating. And this is a place where that happens.
"My bread is naturally leavened. It doesn’t come from quick rise yeast. There’s authenticity and there’s real food. Transparency in the ingredients and process is critical."
Transparency plays into glass windows which allow customers to see into the main bakery space, as well as the way staff is trained to understand – and communicate – the process by which the baked goods are made.
"It’s a life-changing thing, when you really think about it," Ewig muses. "Not only the flavor – but the impact on the food system."
The bakery currently stocks about ten different breads, including classic sourdough and naturally leavened baguettes, multi-grain, rye and whole wheat breads. Specialty offerings include ciabatta, challah, brioche, beer bread and chocolate cherry pecan bread, along with croissants, sticky buns, muffins, scones and cookies, ranging in price from $1.50 to $7.
"Our focus is really on bread," Ewig says. "And we concentrated on bringing in the best people to make that happen."
For Ewig, that meant bringing in a professional baker from London to establish the bakery’s practices and train an eager staff of apprentices.
"I kind of viewed it more from the total experience – not just ‘I need a really good baker who bakes bread’, but also ‘I need a very high level product,’" he says.
Product quality, by Ewig’s measure, starts with great ingredients from reliable sources – including consistent flours, established barms (which were transported from London in a thermos), and even natural brown sugar, imported directly from England.
And, as far as expansion, Ewig says that the bakery will stay true to its mission.
"A lot of bakeries tend to drift," he says, "And I don’t want to do that. But we do have great bread. So, we may branch into lunch – maybe a soup – and catering. I’m not interested in wholesaling. We have a really good product, and I want to maintain that and keep it under our brand."
The response, thus far, has been excellent says Ewig.
"I think we have a tremendous product and that’s what makes me excited," he notes. "I’ve travelled and I’ve tasted many different products from various bakeries. And we’re definitely bringing something new to Port Washington. We’re in a market where that doesn’t exist, and I’m excited for the chance to bring it here."
The bakery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.