Longtime downtown bread shop moves into bigger space, gets into the sandwich business

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Great Harvest Bread Company has converted a former convenience store building at Ninth and Ohio streets into its new bakery and sandwich shop.

When somebody tells me their product is the greatest thing since sliced bread, I usually say: “Challenge accepted. Bring me a loaf of fresh bread and four pounds of butter.” But what do you do to improve upon sliced bread? A longtime downtown bread shop thinks it knows: Get a bigger space and start using fresh bread to make some sandwiches, among other improvements.

Great Harvest Bread Company has moved from its longtime home on Vermont Street to a much larger location on Ninth Street, just west of the main downtown area. I told you all the way back in February 2020 to watch for such a move, but now it has finally happened.

Great Harvest moved into the new location at 501 W. Ninth St. a couple of weeks ago. The location is the former site of a convenience store, and it also was an Asian food market for a while. Great Harvest owner Sarah Burtch completely remade the space, which is one of the reasons the project took about a year to come together.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Great Harvest Bread company has moved from its Vermont Street location into new space at 501 W. Ninth St., pictured here in February 2021.

The new location gives the shop about 1,000 square feet of new space, and part of it will be used for making sandwiches and soups. With so much fresh bread sitting around, making some sandwiches seems like a natural idea, but it wasn’t part of the offerings at the old Vermont Street location.

“We just didn’t have the space for it in the old location,” Burtch said. “It was kind of tiny in there.”

Now, the shop has rolled out a sandwich and soup menu that will adhere to one theme.

“It will all be homemade, and we won’t do anything that is frozen,” Burtch said.

Right now the Reuben sandwich is one of the most popular offerings, Burtch said. It uses Boyle’s Corned Beef out of Kansas City and features sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing on rye bread. (The rye is baked every Monday and Thursday, according to the bread baking schedule the shop shares with its customers.)

The menu has just over a dozen sandwiches, including some traditional ones like a BLT or even a PB&J. It also includes a turkey melt sandwich with green chile mayo, cheddar cheese and roasted New Mexico Hatch green chiles. There is also an Italian sandwich with salami and an olive tapenade, and a chicken salad full of both sweet and spicy pecans.

If breakfast is more your style, don’t worry; a bread maker gets up plenty early enough to make breakfast. The menu includes either a biscuit breakfast sandwich or a bread-based breakfast sandwich, with both coming with a choice of egg, bacon, sausage, Canadian bacon, cheese and a garlic herb spread, for good measure.

The new location also has gotten into the coffee business, serving Blue Jazz Coffee, which is a Topeka-based roastery.

Of course, bread and baked goods will continue to be a mainstay of the business. Burtch said she’s not changing up the baked offerings as part of the move. That means the shop will continue to bake about 20 kinds of breads, ranging from the traditional honey whole wheat and cinnamon chip to the Jewish egg-based challah and something called a Dakota loaf, which is a whole-wheat bread with pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds, plus millet.

The shop also will continue to do a lot of sweets, including cinnamon rolls and twists, Mexican chocolate cake, red velvet bars, sugar cookies and a menu of 10 pies, many of them traditional fruit pies, plus a chocolate chip pecan cookie pie that is called the Douglas County Pie.

Usually if I’m around that much bread and sweets, it also is wise to be near a cot. The new location doesn’t go that far, but it is providing customer seating, which was nearly nonexistent at the old location.

“We will have indoor and outdoor seating here,” Burtch said. “That will be really nice once the snow and virus go away.”

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

A loaf of bread for sale at Great Harvest Bread Company is pictured in this February 2021 photo.


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