DALLAS — New Morning Bakery has been a local landmark in Corvallis for over 40 years, renowned for using locally sourced ingredients and making everything from scratch.
New owners Tristan and Keara James are hoping that reputation follows to its second location in Dallas. Opening a new store was quite the circuitous journey for the married couple, rife with challenges.
Tristan started working at New Morning Bakery at the age of 17, as a dishwasher. He worked his way up, doing everything from delivery driving and cake decorating, to baking and cooking. Even his future wife had worked there previously.
After he became general manager, longtime owners Ann and Joel Weinstein decided to retire and sell in 2012. Tristan and then fiancée Keara jumped at the chance to take over.
And a few months later, they were married.
“It was a smooth transition, as most staff remained on. Keara had worked at the bakery previously, and I was already in charge of most day-to-day operations,” Tristan said.
Since then, they added a cooked-to-order-breakfast, expanded catering, grew wholesale and with the large dining room, worked hard to maintain the bakery as a hub for the community.
“New Morning is special to us because our staff and customers are like family,” Tristan said, now 37. “We truly appreciate how many people really care about the bakery and want to see it continue. Our focus is on making great food from scratch using only the best ingredients.”
Previously, living in Sodaville just outside Lebanon, they moved their family to the Dallas area in 2016 in search of more affordable property. Naturally, their reputation as the owners of the successful New Morning Bakery in Corvallis followed them.
“The first question most people in the area asked upon meeting us was, ‘When are you going to open here?’ Our answer was always, ‘Maybe if we can find a building to buy,’” Tristan said.
“We lease both our production space and restaurant space in Corvallis and didn’t like the idea of expanding without owning the building we occupied,” Tristan added. “We had been into 788 Main Street a few times and we both thought, ‘this would be a perfect location for another New Morning Bakery,’ but we didn’t imagine it would ever be up for sale.”
Then when Pressed Coffee Roasters closed and the building became available in January of 2021, they again jumped at the opportunity.
“The bank laughed at us when we asked about a commercial real estate loan during a pandemic, especially with our sales for 2020 being down 50% compared to 2019,” Tristan said. “But we felt that was temporary and only due to the pandemic. We bet on the future and used our life savings and found a silent partner with real estate investment interests to help make it happen.”
With a lot of very long days, nights, weekends and some very generous friends wielding paint brushes, they were able to open in Dallas at the end of April.
“Business in Dallas was initially a bit busier than we expected, so we weren’t staffed up enough on the production end of things to keep up without a lot of overtime,” he explained. “Fortunately, our nearly 50-member crew all put in the extra effort and long hours to keep both restaurants well stocked.”
Keara added they received a surprising amount of support from the city and from Mayor Brian Dalton.
“He called us several times before we even purchased the building to see how we were doing, was there anything he could do to support us. So, we felt very welcome, for sure,” she said.
Since opening, the most popular items on their Dallas menu proved to be quiche, chicken salad and cinnamon rolls.
“Here, our nanaimo bars are really popular,” Keara added. “We don’t have as big a selection in Dallas as with Corvallis, but those are really popular with the Dallas crowd.”
However, the breakfast sandwiches proved to be not as popular as a grab and go items. Keara said she realized after having one herself, microwaving one was just not up to standards versus ordered fresh.
“We shouldn’t do it if we couldn’t do it like in Corvallis. We need to have that consistency between locations,” she said.
While the pace has slowed down quite a bit in Dallas, the duo believe they’re building a good customer base and are sure the word about their food is getting out.
However, the pandemic restrictions were certainly an ongoing challenge, especially when they had to downsize from about 40 employees to seven overnight during the initial shutdown in March, 2020. Then trying to navigate the re-openings and re-closures throughout the pandemic was an additional challenge, all the while trying to open a new place.
“The hardest part was the lack of notice,” Tristan said. “It was like, tomorrow we can be open. We’d have to drive back to Corvallis to set up to be open in the morning. Or we’re trying to wrap up for the day and heading back to Dallas, and it’s like, ‘You’ve got to shut down, no dine-in tomorrow.’ Dang, we’ve got to move furniture around, wash stuff off. So, yeah. That made it very difficult.”
Now shuttling between two fully-open locations, Keara thought she would be in Dallas a lot more and Tristan would be the one in Corvallis full-time.
“Because of staffing shortages in Corvallis, I had to be there a lot more,” she said.
“Plus, it’s a lot busier there,” Tristan added.
Looking ahead, the co-owners are looking at utilizing the stage setup that remains in a corner of the front room and resurrecting trivia night. They are not serving alcohol for now and don’t have access to the banquet room, which belongs to the same building owner as Domino’s Pizza. But they have received assurances they can cater in there to anyone else who rents it out.
“Hopefully there won’t be more restrictions and we can focus on creating the sort of community pillar in Dallas that New Morning Bakery is in Corvallis,” Tristan summed up. “I’ve always found that if you make great food, people will find you and spread the word.”
New Morning Bakery
788 Main St., Dallas
Hours: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m., seven days a week