Rumors have swirled around in Albion that its future bakery and deli would be too bogged down by construction to be ever be completed. However, with some final finishes being made, there is now light at the end of this wintry tunnel.
Foundry Bakehouse and Deli is planning to open their doors to the Albion community in April. Foundry will be in the ground floor of the Peabody Building — where the Monteer’s Bakery used to be, and below where the Peabody apartments will soon be — on the corner of Erie and Superior Streets.
Albion residents have indicated on numerous community surveys that they would like both a bakery and a hardware store in the city of Albion. Emily Verbeke, project manager of Foundry, noticed this and decided it was time to give the people part of what they wanted.
Verbeke reached out the several bakeries near the Albion area and tried to sell them on the prospect of opening a bakery in the city, but they didn’t bite at the idea.
“We’ll just do it ourselves then,” Verbeke recalled.
First, though, renovations on the Peabody Building had to be finished. The Michigan Economic Development Association awarded the City of Albion an $800,000 Community Development Block Grant. The City teamed up with ACE Investment Properties to use the money to update the downtown building.
ACE president Bill Dobbins and his family and Homestead Savings Bank also contributed to the renovation’s cost.
Verbeke hoped to break ground on the bakery by the summer of 2018, but the renovations placed those hopes on hold.
Now, with the processed and renovations buttoned up and Verbeke and her team are confident in saying that Foundry Bakery and Deli should be open in April, before Albion College’s commencement.
Down at the corner of Erie and Superior Streets, there has been a lot of commotion in the Peabody building as contractors work on the bakery. Rather than a traditional bakery with a wall separating the kitchen from the eating area, Foundry will be an open-concept so that all customers can see the kitchen and what’s being made and how it’s being made.
Verbeke has been training several bakers at the Albion Food Hub on how to make bread, cakes, muffins, bagels, soups, salads and sandwiches that will all be available for purchase at Foundry. In fact, some Albion residents and students may have already tasted these goodies at Albion College events where Verbeke and her team have catered or at Pure Albion where several baked goods have been on display.
The names of the goods at Foundry will be named after certain processes and components of a foundry, like the Cupola Sandwich and the Drag Sandwich. Verbeke hopes that when people come to Foundry and eat these baked goods they are reminded of the strong, innovative ways of Albion, a former steel mill town, and its residents.
This is why Verbeke decided to name this new bakery and deli the Foundry: to give tribute to the history and hard work of Albion’s foundry workers, like her grandfather.
“This [bakery] is a ballad of honoring Albion’s past, the things that grew Albion and made Albion special and even though those have gone away we still have a lot of strong memories,” said Verbeke.
Much like Albion Malleable Brewery in downtown Albion has done, Verbeke will restore an older building, making the building a modern version of itself. Yet, she hopes to connect the past with the future and make sure that the residents of Albion and those who pass through know of the strength, grit and perseverance that the city has had in the past and continues to have now into the future.
“Albion built foundries, and foundries built Albion,” said Verbeke.
Updated, 3/1/2019, 8:06 a.m.