Mayhew Bakery, neighborhood hero after Hurricane Ida, to close. ‘It keeps getting harder’ | Where NOLA Eats

When Mayhew Bakery opened in Faubourg St. John in the fall of 2019, it was part of a hopeful wave of small artisan bakeries helping to revive the old craft around New Orleans neighborhoods.







Mayhew Bakery on Orleans Avenue is a bake shop and cafe for bread and pastries.




The pandemic descended just a few months later, then Hurricane Ida delivered a wallop. Now Mayhew Bakery will mark its last day of business on Thursday (Aug. 11).







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The mixed berry king cake from Mayhew Bakery in New Orleans.




Proprietor and baker Kelly Mayhew said the decision to close for good was “heartbreaking.” But the compounding woes facing small food and drink businesses like his forced him to reassess the future. A slew of local hospitality businesses shuttered soon after Ida; Mayhew’s departure reflects the longer reach of the disaster on top of the hardships the pandemic has heaped on small operators like this.

“It just keeps getting harder,” he said.

Mayhew is an Army combat veteran who pursued a culinary career after his military service.







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Kelly Mayhew from Mayhew Bakery in Metairie arranges sample-sized cookies and pastries at the Southern Food & Beverage museum.




He started with a table at the Crescent City Farmers Market, where his king cakes were seasonal draws. Soon he set up a walk-up bakery in Old Metairie, serving bread through the window like a bakery-meets-sno-ball stand.







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Kelly Mayhew and Jess Ragan-Williams at Mayhew Bakery on Orleans Avenue, shown here in 2019.




The full-fledged Mayhew Bakery opened on Orleans Avenue in October 2019. With more room to work and an expanded repertoire, the bakery won many fans for its pies, pastries and fresh bread, especially the baguette turned into an epic French jambon-beurre sandwich (dubbed the jam-bam), and savory “swirls” made from garlic-smeared baguette dough.







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A swirl is also a specialty item at Mayhew Bakery with olive salad, roasted garlic and cheese.




The business also developed thanks in part to restaurant and bar clients around town, and nearly all of those closed at once, at least temporarily, in the pandemic.







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New York-style pizza from Mayhew Bakery in New Orleans has a thin, pliant crust and fresh sauce. Spinach, banana peppers and red onion top this one.




Mayhew orchestrated what seemed to be a successful pandemic pivot by adding pizza to the lineup, a one-time special that became a mainstay for the business. The bakery could often resemble a pizzeria with stacks of pies ordered by neighbors.

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Raspberry crumble bars start the day at Mayhew Bakery in New Orleans.




But the bakery never got a share of the major federal relief programs intended to keep hospitality businesses like this alive through the pandemic. Then Hurricane Ida hit.







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Kelly Mayhew (right) serves hot coffee and gives out free items to neighbors outside his Mayhew Bakery on Aug. 31, after Hurricane Ida cut power to New Orleans. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)


Almost immediately after the storm crippled the city’s woebegone electrical grid, Mayhew turned his bakery into a grassroots hub of community support. He and a swiftly-growing team of volunteers provided meals, essential supplies, a neighborhood connection to people who had no means to leave the city as the famine continued.







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Anthony Willhide prepares gazpacho for free meals outside Mayhew Bakery in Faubourg St. John, which quickly transformed into a hub of community support after Hurricane Ida. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)


Behind the scenes though, Mayhew said he has spent the last year struggling to recover the hit to the business.

“It’s been a hard struggle,” he said.

On Thursday, Mayhew Bakery will bake its final batches of bread and, as the baker said, “say some heartfelt goodbyes.”

Mayhew Bakery

3201 Orleans Ave., 504-702-8078

Closes after service Aug. 11, 2022

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