The Bakers | Photo Gallery
Welcome to McGrath's Brick Oven Bakehouse. The name comes from us, the bakers, Kevin and Melinda McGrath. Although Kevin is a native of suburban Chicago, Melinda was born and raised right here in Central Pennsylvania, and we as a couple have decided to make this place our home, put down some roots, and serve the community by sharing our passion for delicious, healthful, sustainably-created, artisan breads. The process of getting here has taken several years, and everyone likes a good story, so here is ours. In the final years of college, we met while both doing individual internships at Au Sable Institute for Environmental Studies in northwest lower Michigan. Our convictions of environmental stewardship are what took us there, and our interest and passions continued to grow as we learned more about food, farming, sustainable food choices, and how we can help to spread the word about it's importance for our bodies and for the earth around us both near and far, in the present and in the future, for the glory of our Creator. Read more about how Au Sable has impacted the McGrath's here.
Traverse City, MI
Upon graduation we had to start considering the daunting question of "what's next?" Melinda discovered a small bakery in Traverse City, MI, Pleasanton Brick Oven Bakery, and quickly realized what a creative outlet it would be, as well as a wonderful environment to foster these important passions she had developed in regards to sustainable and nourishing food. As time passed, Kevin also developed a curiosity in the daily happenings of her job, especially firing the oven, and offered to volunteer some time in the bakery to learn what he could. Truth be told, as a dating couple, it also allowed us to spend more time together, which ultimately proved to be time well spent. It wasn't long before Kevin was hired on full time and together we both delved deep into learning the intricacies and science of baking naturally leavened breads in a wood-fired brick oven. The two years that followed were a wonderful and invaluable investment in friendships, education, and ultimately, our future together. It was during this time that we got married, and that before we start putting down roots we would move back to Melinda's home town in Pennsylvania to be closer to family. Not wanting to abandon this craft that we had come to love, and realizing that there is a stark void of such bread products in the area we would be moving to, the answer was clear. We would bring this remarkable bread to Central Pennsylvania with us, and start a bakery of our own.
So we did just that. We packed up and made the move back to Mechanicsburg, but without a timeline for our plans and without enough savings to start anything right away. To keep our skills honed and to provide for our family the nourishing bread we had become accustomed to, we began learning basic masonry skills and constructed a small patio oven behind Melinda's parent's house . In August of 2011 we began sharing the loaves beyond immediate family, to include friends and community members. Over the next year and a half, our humble donation-based baking grew far beyond our expectations and prepared us to finally establish the bakehouse we have been dreaming of.
McGrath's Brick Oven Bakehouse
In July of 2012 we purchased the home where we would hope to one day build our bakehouse. Our vision was to convert the attached garage portion of the home into the bakehouse, and build the brick oven onto it as an extension of the room. After a few months and some painstaking dealings with the township, we finally were granted approval in October to have the business in our home, and to begin construction on the project. During the month of December 2012, we proceeded to launch a crowdfunded Indiegogo campaign to raise the necessary funds to build the oven. By January 1st, 2013, $23,000 were pledged and given to make this transformation happen! Our community's generous donations allowed us to build and construct the bakehouse from January through June, when we finally opened for business. It was during this season of construction that the newest member of our family was added when our son Reuben Steward was born in February 2013. Now at three years old, he is not yet tall enough to roll dough or wash dishes, but he certainly loves to watch his daddy stoke the fire and unload an oven full of loaves. And yes, he loves to eat good bread!