Business moves to bigger spot ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY -- Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale


September 23, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff Writer

Richard Savel loves the French bread. His daughter Jane is partial to the Chambord chocolate cake, topped with melted semi-sweet chocolate and fresh raspberries.

To indulge, they simply stroll across the room.

The Savel family, which runs The Bread Place bakery in Annapolis, opened Friday in its new location in the Clock Tower ** Plaza on Forest Drive.

Mr. Savel started the business 12 years ago, turning out everything from home-style white bread to fancy sourdough with green and black olives. He developed hearty cheese breads, rich pumpernickel and classic ryes, along with rolls, pastries and cakes.

"You name it, we bake it," says Ms. Savel, who runs the store with her sister, Stephanie. Mr. Savel has partially retired from the business, but he has worked 12-hour days lately getting ready for the grand opening.

Everything is baked on the premises, with a team of five bakers kneading and rolling and loading the loaves into ovens that line the length of the room. The baking is done out front, so customers can watch.

The new shop gives the family 6,500 square feet of space, more than twice what they had at their old spot along Forest Drive, about a mile away.

About 18 people work various shifts at the shop, but the Savels are the mainstays, along with their chef, Philippe Bind, who makes ice-cream cakes and other gourmet desserts.

"He uses ice cream from a Crofton company called Middletons, and these cakes are the real thing," says Ms. Savel.

In their new space, the Savels have added to their breads a case of homemade ice cream, fresh pasta, produce and a full-service deli with more than 100 varieties of cheese.

"We've also added the tag 'The affordable gourmet' to our name, because that's what we try to do," says Ms. Savel. "People want quality but they can't afford to pay a lot."

Her father says the key to offering fine foods without high prices is to make small investments that greatly improve quality.

"Essentially, the cost difference between very high quality and fair is marginal," he says.

For example, the European-style butter the bakery uses in cooking, which he prefers, typically is only used by "white-linen table restaurants," Mr. Savel says. It costs the shop $12 a case more, or $250 more a week, to bake with this butter.

"Most establishments look at the overall cost, but we say it's a commitment more than an investment," Mr. Savel says. "You come up with a superior product, and more people will buy it."

So far, that philosophy has carried the day.

"We created a niche. We've been very lucky, but I have to say it's through a lot of hard work," Ms. Savel says. "We hope we've created loyal, steady customers. Some people have been coming since we opened, and people with out-of-town guests always bring them by for our bread."

Since the shop is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. six days a week, and from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays, 364 days a year, there's no such thing as a 40-hour week, Ms. Savel says.

"We love it, but sometimes we're delirious," she says.

Both sisters came to the business full time two years ago. Stephanie, 29, was in charge of sales for two Washington hotels. Jane, 34, had worked as an office manager at a large law firm, but the chance to be around family all day was too tempting for the sisters to pass up.

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