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For several months, I was greeted most mornings at the 43rd and State Starbucks by Sandy Jacobson. She quickly learned my regular order and always shouted out a “good morning, Gary," when I walked in.

Then one day, Sandy was not around, but in typical Starbucks fashion, the remaining staff took up the daily greeting.

Last Sunday afternoon, I walked into the new Brick Oven Bakery on Fourth Street, just across from The Capital Gallery, and was surprised to be greeted by a familiar face and voice.

It turns out that Sandy and her husband, Steve, have paired her coffee expertise and customer service training with his French pastry chef training to open the new downtown location.

Steve had built up a successful lawn care business (Greenskeeper) over 17 years, but sparked by an interest in baking instilled by his mother, Steve turned the lawn business over to a manager and set out for a baking school in San Francisco.

At the San Francisco Baking Institute, Steve refined his skills focusing on French pastries and bread.

Having opened only two months ago, the couple already employs nine and is in need of another baker. Sandy said the new venture is already well ahead of the business plan they created prior to opening.

The pair anticipates the arrival of a new wood-fired oven being shipped in from France. Steve explained that the Four Grand-Mere oven will exponentially expand their output of both bread and pastries, a necessity since on some days they sell out.

They already offer soup and sandwiches at lunch, and with the expanded capacity of the new oven plan to partner with a local restaurant and retail outlet. With the holidays fast approaching, they also plan to bake pies by preorder.

The couple points out that while there are other excellent locally owned and operated coffee shops and/or bakeries in the downtown area that serve breakfast or lunch -- Anima Cucina, Terra Nomad and Bread Poets, to name a few -- they believe their unique appeal is their French pastries.

I am impressed when I see local people pour their savings, time and energy into new ventures. They are taking a huge chance, but they believe our community is not only ready for such a venture but that the people of Bismarck and Mandan appreciate their effort and want to see them succeed.

You can find them on Facebook and on the web at www.brickovenbakerynd.com.

I hope that in this holiday season, you will join me in supporting all local retail businesses. Fight the online urge. Shop local.

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Gary Adkisson is publisher of The Bismarck Tribune.

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