Photo by Stephanie Breijo
Owner and baker Jay Metzler with daughter, Olive, outside his new Scott's Addition spot
All it takes is a starter, some flour, a little bit of water, a little bit of salt and a whole lot of patience; these are all things Jay Metzler has in spades, and on countertops and shelves throughout Idle Hands Bread. But Scott's Addition's newest bakery, set to open this Wednesday, won't just offer Metzler's signature, naturally leavened breads — guests will also find a selection of fresh pastries such as croissants and raspberry pinwheels, plus a new Black Hand coffee: The Baker's Blend.
“I never really enjoyed baking when I was younger because it was so recipe specific," he says, standing in the small, endearing space at 3103 W. Leigh St. He's surrounded by his own handiwork: a homemade sneeze guard fashioned out of junked window panes; the concrete he stained and sealed by hand; the white tile board he hung, the wall he hand-stenciled. "I wanted to do cooking, where you could just throw things together, because that’s what I was good at. So it was really just last year I figured out how I could bake by using a specific formula but then go more grown-out, and do the throwing and stuff."
The focus and eventual experimentation earned Metzler a following at Perk! Coffee & Lunchbox in Bon Air, and more recently at Yellow Umbrella Provisions. At his new space, he'll continue baking naturally risen breads, offering loaves such as a French rustic white, a multigrain, and a dark rye, all only available on Fridays and Saturdays, and he's also working on a baguette. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are reserved for pastries and coffee only, when you can buy a sweet treat and a cup of Baker's Blend for $5 or less.
Metzler's journey began with beer, working for behemoth beer distribution companies Brown and Loveland. Trading one fermentation process for another, he then began baking for Perk! (and serving as its co-owner). While it wasn't intentional, he does admit both worlds are related. "Beer is liquid bread and bread is fermented just like beer. And I’m actually hoping to get spent grains from Ardent [Craft Ales, just down the block] to make a spent grain bread, which is really nice.”
After selling his Perk! shares and netting nearly $6,400 through a Kickstarter fund, Metzler was able to secure a portion of an 800-to-1,000-square-foot rental space from Black Hand owner Clay Gilbert, who roasts his coffee beans next door. It's a great connection, according to Metzler, who's still connected to Perk! as well: Though he's no longer an owner, Metzler still supplies the cafe's light rye and whole wheat sandwich bread, and hopes to increase his wholesale relations over time. For now, he's just looking forward to getting his retail spot off the ground: “I kind of felt like this was in the background, a couple years down the road, but I just pushed myself into it a lot quicker. And all the positive feedback [at Perk!] really helped, too.”
Idle Hands Bread is located at 3103 W. Leigh St. and is set to open Wednesday, Dec. 16, at 7 a.m. Hours: Tuesday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to noon, and Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m.