Root Baking Co. closing this weekend in Ponce City Market

Popular Ponce City Market bakery Root Baking Co. is closing its doors at the end of service on April 3.

Co-owner Chris Wilkins told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the decision to close was “a natural conclusion to the project.”

“We always looked at opening a bakery as trying to say something about where you are or how you do things … We got to the point where we said what we needed to say. We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish with it.”

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Wilkins founded Root in Charleston in 2015 with Nicole Lewis, selling mostly wholesale and at markets, before moving operations to Atlanta in 2018.

Initially, Root Baking Co. served breakfast and lunch with a grain and vegetable-focused menu, and sold a variety of breads, as well as pastries. The bakery’s hours and menu were reduced in 2020 after the onset of the pandemic and with the opening of Pizza Jeans, a pizzeria Wilkins and Lewis launched in the Root space and which will remain open, with “big news” to come.

Root Baking Co. employees have either been moved to other parts of the business, “or we helped them find a really great spot to land,” Wilkins said.

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Wilkins said he will remain involved with Pizza Jeans, and will help out as needed at Mount Royal and Spaceman, the two concepts he collaborated with Hugh Acheson on that opened late last year at the Hyatt Centric Buckhead Atlanta hotel.

Before opening Root, Wilkins worked at Independent Baking Co. in Athens, where he met Acheson, and later set up the bread program at Acheson’s now-shuttered Savannah restaurant The Florence.

For now, Wilkins is taking a break and weighing his long-term options. He will continue to write the bi-monthly “Bake Better” baking column for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“It’s been a very long seven years,” he said. “I’m going to take a step back, take a look at some projects, and see what moves me.”

Wilkins, who was named a semifinalist in the James Beard Awards’ outstanding baker category in 2019 and 2020, said he’s proud of what Root Baking Co. accomplished, particularly in the heirloom grain space.

“When we started this thing, milling heirloom Southern grains was a small niche of the baking world. More bakers have taken up that mantle and are moving the ball forward and moving further than we could,” he said, citing local bakeries and bakers including Evergreen Butcher & Baker, Sarah O’Brien of Little Tart Bake Shop and Sarah Dodge of Bread Is Good.

He said he’s also grateful that Root Baking Co. was able to serve as a springboard for other bakers to launch their careers.

“We’ve trained some really talented bakers. Good bakers are hard to find, and I’m proud to be a place that taught some really talented people.”

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