By the summer of 2017, Saline is going to be a great little town to be a gourmand.
Shawna Sloan, former bread manager at Zingerman’s Bakehouse, will open Matty J’s Bakery and Café sometime in June or July. The upscale bakery and café/restaurant will open in the spot previously housed Gabriel’s Cheese Steak Hoagies in The Oaks shopping plaza at 972 E. Michigan Ave.
Matty J’s Bakery and Café will be open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday. Sloan and a staff of 6-12 people will serve from a small breakfast and lunch menu of sandwiches, soups and salads.
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For breakfast, for example, she might serve a quiche made from bacon, leek, smoked gouda and tomato. Or for vegetarians, fontina, mushroom, shallot and thyme. At lunch, she might serve a vegetarian soup, like roasted cauliflower and chickpea. Another option might be red lentil and sausage soup. One sandwich offering could be heirloom tomato and pimento cheese.
Of course, she’ll also serve breads, cookies and pastries and Ann Arbor’s popular Mighty Good Coffee.
“Anyone who wants a high-quality baked good and a really nice coffee is going to like us,” Sloan said.
Sloan said Matty J’s customers can expect healthy offerings.
“I care about what I’m putting in my body, in terms of chemicals, and whether or not food is organically grown. I care about that, so our menu will reflect that,” Sloan said.
She plans to make her menu organic as possible.
“Going 100 percent organic isn’t always sustainable on a big level. But as the market and the trend grows, organic ingredients are more accessible,” Sloan said.
She'll also have vegetarian and vegan items on her menu.
Sloan, originally from Portland, Mich., came to Washtenaw County to study anthropology at the University of Michigan. While studying she took a job at Zingerman’s, where she fell in love with baking bread.
“I realized right away that I loved it,” Sloan said. “I’m detail oriented. I like being exact. And that’s really important.”
On the other hand, there’s an art to it.
“You need to be exact, but there are a lot of factors as you go. You need to be able to feel it and know how to treat it, to make sure you get the most beautiful loaf,” Sloan said.
And making a beautiful loaf of bread is its own reward.
“It’s a challenge every day. I also like that you produce something every day. There’s an immediate reward that’s very satisfying,” she said. “And people love baked goods.”
She plans to bake white breads for sandwiches and for kids. She’ll bake whole wheat breads, with “nuts and grains and seeds in them, because they’re good for your digestion.” She expects to make a lot of dinner rolls.
She’s also planning to bake loafs of bread with meats and cheeses rolled right into the dough.
“It’s like a meal in a loaf. They are delicious,” she said.
Her menus will change with the seasons because she wants to use fresh ingredients.
Sloan, 36, lives in Saline with her son, who attends Woodland Meadows Elementary School. She said she likes the school and the community. About two years ago, she left her job at Zingerman’s Bakehouse to be a stay-at-home mom.
She found the experience enjoyable.
“But I missed working. And I really missed baking. It took me a year to realize how much I missed baking and how much I loved it,” Sloan said. “It’s what I want to do with my life.”
After a year out of the workforce, she started considering her options. One option was to go back to school and take on debt to get a master’s degree in a field she’d not yet worked in. She decided it was time to launch her own business.
“I’ve learned all these skills. And I think you’re more likely to be successful and happy doing something you love,” Sloan said. “It’s a risky decision, but it’s worth betting the farm on.”
She’s thankful for her experience at Zingerman’s.
“It’s a great place to learn, with so many passionate, creative people. It’s a great operation,” she said.
As a small operation, Matty J’s should be nimble enough to change with the trends.
She considered other locations around town. But she chose The Oaks because she noticed a lot of foot traffic during the day, and because the available space was already set up for a restaurant.
She’s expects to employee 6-12 workers. She’s already lined up two of her former co-workers from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and another employee who is passionate about baking. She also plans to hire some workers from Saline High School’s culinary arts program.