By embracing Old World, artisan techniques, Baker’s Crust Artisan Kitchen Founder and CEO John Stein is ahead of his time.
In opening his seventh restaurant last August in Ashburn, Stein brought with him 25 years of experience in the use of locally sourced, farm-to-table ingredients that are in-demand today by Loudoun County foodies.
“John Stein is, in my opinion, a kind of renaissance restaurateur,” said Janice McLean, the marketing and catering sales manager who was tasked with growing the company’s brand recognition as it expands from the Virginia Beach and Richmond areas into Northern Virginia.
McLean retraced Stein’s footsteps from a street vendor to head of a restaurant chain, with seven thriving locations.
“He was in Virginia Beach, pushing a Sno-Cone cart on the boardwalk, and decided he wanted to do something bigger,” McLean said. “He decided he was going to do Old World, crust breads, which 25 years ago in Virginia Beach, was not a thing.”
“He (Stein) built a bakery and found the best Old World artisan baker you could find, which was actually here in DC,” McLean said. Stein hired Felipe Bulan, who was able to perfect his craft while running a small-town French bakery outside Paris. “He flew Bulan down to help teach him but that quickly turned into a partnership.”
“They decided to start a bakery together which morphed into an artisan sandwich shop. Stein realized that there wasn’t a sustainable way to get fresh greens consistently, so along the way he opened a farm.”
That farm and bakery are still operating, supplying the fresh, organic ingredients that go into the food served at the seven locations today.
“It sets the food off,” McLean said. “It makes it different than the others.”
The local restaurant, in Belmont Chase, was the first one built by the company in 10 years and represents a foray into a new market. The tried-and-true formula of serving unique, hand-crafted sandwiches and salads made from fresh, organic ingredients has proven successful in Loudoun County.
“We are a from-scratch kitchen, so we make everything ourselves,” McLean said. “Everything is hand-made every day, even our potato chips and mozzarella balls. We don’t buy any dressings. We make them fresh every day. With all the dietary restrictions — like gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan – you can prepare any dish to meet those needs.
“We are really famous for our salads, and they are heaping,” she said. “And the pizzas are amazing.”
Every six months, Baker’s Crust releases a fresh, seasonal menu boasting innovative twists on everyday food.
The company added “Artisan Kitchen” to its name to reflect its evolution and reduce confusion. McLean said getting people past “Baker’s Crust” remains one of her challenges in building brand recognition.
“There are still people who walk in thinking they are going to buy a cake,” she said.
“We are always looking for new, exciting and delicious menu offerings that can satisfy any palette,” according to Stein.
In addition to the fresh menu, McLean said the restaurant serves a popular brunch every Saturday and Sunday, offering a spacious roof-top venue for socializing or special occasions, and a happy hour seven days a week featuring unique, hand-crafted cocktails.
“We even have our own mixologist, who is constantly coming up with new drinks,” McLean said.
She also said the restaurant offers catering for special occasions, with many menu options that be specialized for any situation.
For information about catering or special events, contact McLean at 703-443-4286 or [email protected]’scrust.com.