By Kath Younger
Greetings, followers of the Woodard Properties blog! I’m Kath, co-owner of Great Harvest Charlottesville and the blogger behind Kath Eats Real Food, here to share a little bit of our story opening a bakery. My husband, Matt, and I were young twenty-somethings when we decided to open a bakery, and here we are two years later with a happily running business to care for!
We first decided to pursue opening a Great Harvest franchise after Matt had spent a year working at one in Charlotte, North Carolina. He began work there thinking it would be a temporary job while he searched for full-time employment, but he ended up loving it so much he stayed on. A year later he felt confident he could run one himself and we began to research opening a franchise.
After multiple interviews with the company and research on small business loans and possible investor partnerships, we embarked on our journey. Since Charlotte already had a few locations, we had to choose a new city and Charlottesville had always been on our radar. Matt was born here, and we loved to visit for romantic getaways in college. Cville seemed like the perfect match for us.
I wrote the following after a visit in 2009:
“Overall, we love Charlottesville. I have no doubt it would be perfect for our personalities and lifestyle priorities (and for raising a family!). I’m excited and nervous to see where the next six months take us.”
We traveled up a few more times and found a location on the Downtown Mall that we liked. However, the terms of the lease just didn’t feel right to us and we ended up backing away from the deal. right around the time when we left Charlotte to move to Charlottesville, we had to start our location hunt from scratch.
This ended up being a blessing because soon we found McIntire Plaza!
We knew the location was great: close to downtown, adequate parking, good visibility. But the inside needed a complete renovation! Crazy Horse Studio was moving out and we had to have the vision to see how a t-shirt print shop could become a warm and inviting bakery.
And new walls to go in
And an oven built from this
The construction and equipment installation was the scariest thing I have ever been through. Matt and I were constantly worried about our budget, opening on time, problems that arose. But somehow, things turned out OK.
The exterior got a face lift, too.
The bakery started to look real.
And before long, we opened! A day after our 4th wedding anniversary on June 3, 2011.
The transformation from paint-splattered warehouse to a neighborhood breadquarters was incredible, but not something I’d want to have to do again! We’re very thankful to have been able to make this dream come true.