Photo by Beth Furgurson
Evrim Dogu started baking bread out of his father's pizza restaurants in Northern Virginia about five years ago. After several years of baking on the side and selling his product at farmers markets in the D.C. and Richmond areas, Evrim decided to pursue the craft full time by opening a bakery with his sister, Evin. They found an inexpensive building in Church Hill with space for a kitchen and apartments above for easy access to the bakery.
Sub Rosa bakery opened in December 2012, and it quickly inspired a loyal following in the neighborhood and beyond for its fresh-baked goods and inviting atmosphere. "The bakery felt like a community house, a place to relax or meet, and catch up with someone. It felt like there was nobody doing anything quite like we were doing," says Evin.
Evrim ground organic grains on the premises, mixed all ingredients by hand and baked his bread in a wood-fired oven. He insists that this method, though laborious, makes a superior product. "I think [mine] is better than most of the bread in Virginia," he says. "People don't realize how many different types of flavors are possible."
In early April of this year, a fire caused serious damage. Authorities condemned the building, and after only being open for a few months, Sub Rosa was forced to close. However, the Dogus weren't left to figure out the next step by themselves — the community held fundraising dinners and created a website that collected $16,000 in donations to help cover expenses that insurance didn't pay for.
"The feeling you're really needed in your community is irreplaceable," Evrim says. "The help we received is driving us to open again and to keep striving for excellence."
While waiting for the bakery to be rebuilt, Evrim and Evin received an opportunity to apprentice at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. Tartine offers a similar product as Sub Rosa — naturally leavened and Old World-style French breads and pastries. Evrim is also spending time traveling to other bakeries along the West Coast that bake with organic grains and wood-fired ovens, too.
Though the pair has been learning new recipes for bread, éclairs, tea-cakes and other baked goods, both say one of the most important lessons that they've learned while apprenticing is how to better manage their bakery from a logistical standpoint. "Initially, we're going to keep our menu unchanged, but in the back, we want to be more professional and organized. Several months ago, we were new business owners and not very efficient," Evin says.
The Dogus hope to reopen Sub Rosa sometime this month.