Each morning, seven days a week, a steady stream of customers line up to buy muffins, croissants, biscuits and coffee at Barrio Bakery located at 197 North Winooski Ave. in Burlington, Vt.
“Our bestseller is the cheddar and rosemary biscuit,” said Jessica Bunce, Barrio Bakery co-owner. “No matter how many we make, they don’t last and we sellout within the hour.”
All of Barrio’s pastries are baked fresh daily and made from scratch. Barrio also offers many of its menu items gluten-free.
Owned and started by Jessica and her husband, Ryan, the objective was to create a neighborhood bakery. Since it opened in Burlington’s Old North End in the fall of 2010, it has become a popular destination for local residents.
When the Bunces purchased their place of business, it was Panadero Bakery. The two decided to rename it Barrio, which is Spanish for neighborhood, to coincide with what they wanted their bakery to be.
“It’s stated in our business plan that we want this to be a neighborhood bakery. Everywhere Ryan and I have lived, we’ve had the benefit of a bakery being close by and want others to experience that too,” said Jessica. “Barrio Bakery serves as a gathering place for local people.”
Barrio is unique in that it is not just a bakery. At 3 p.m. they close and turn it into a restaurant for the evening. From 5:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, it becomes Pizza Barrio. They serve a wide-variety of pizzas, including the Bacon Marmalade, a pie topped with house-made bacon marmalade, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and arugula. Pizza Barrio also has a complete beer and wine menu and hosts live music regularly.
Jessica, who is from Vermont, and Ryan, from New York, met while living in Arizona. The two had hopes of opening a bakery of their own while living out west, but they never found the right opportunity. The Bunces moved to Vermont when they decided to start a family.
After working a couple of different jobs, one night Ryan said he could only imagine running a bakery.
“We started to look and this bakery was for sale. Within a few months it was ours. It all happened really fast,” said Jessica. “I learned real quick, it’s hard work running your own business. In the beginning you’re waking up at 4 a.m., which is hard enough, but with two small children it makes it even harder. But today it’s worked out pretty well. Ryan was built to be in the kitchen and I handle the business end.”
The Bunces have expanded their business since they opened in 2010. In 2012 they purchased the adjacent commercial space, which doubled the size of Barrio. They obtained an SBA microloan through Community Capital of Vermont in 2013. The SBA Microloan Program provides loans up to $50,000 to small business owners who are often startups or early stage microenterprises.
Community Capital of Vermont also offers technical assistance and advising.
“They helped so much,” said Jessica. “They tweaked our business model and assisted with some of our accounting needs.”
Barrio has also received assistance from Steve Densham, Vermont Small Business Development Center area advisor. VtSBDC is a partnership program with the Small Business Administration that offers free advising and low-cost training to small businesses throughout the state.
“I’ve worked with the Bunces from the very beginning when they purchased the original business,” said Densham. “I’ve provided counsel on financial analysis, scheduling and strategic planning. A positive impact on their revenue and profitability is the expansion into the space next door.”
In the coming years, the Bunces would like to expand Barrio’s services throughout Vermont.
“We ask ourselves all the time, where do we see our business down the road? In five years we’d love to have another location,” Jessica. “This is becoming successful enough, so opening another would be ideal.”