If you've visited downtown Mesa recently, you may have noticed a new sight: bread. Lots of bread. Baguette tips poking out from brown paper bags, clutched by people walking. Darkly baked ends calling you from under clear plastic wrap. Old World sourdough, multigrain boules, loaves enlivened with gochujang.
This bread? It comes from Main Street Harvest, a newborn sliver of a grocery store at 121 West Main Street.
Though open, Main Street Harvest is a work-in-progress from Amanda Abou-Eid and Jon Przybyl, owners of Proof Bread, a bakery active in farmers’ markets throughout the Valley. They call their shop a grocery store. In truth, it's more of a boutique artisan market, a happy nexus of rigorous Arizona producers, many from the east Valley. The scale is small. Newly dropped-off delectations, like hand-rolled pasta, often sell out in hours. In my two visits separated by some four weeks, roughly half the store turned over.
And though Abou-Eid and Przybyl are bakers, their month-old market carries way more than bread.
“We put on this holiday market last month,” Przybyl said in late January. “It went so well that instead of taking the two weeks off for the holidays we take from Proof, I just worked the whole time and started building out this e-commerce website for Main Street Harvest, just plugging in all the vendors from the [holiday] market.”
That one-off holiday market has grown into one open five days a week.
Since the holidays, About-Eid and Jon Przybyl have onboarded some 30 vendors. “I called the first 20, 25 people, and those were close contacts of mine from the market,” Przybyl says. “Everybody said yes. Everybody from the holiday market said yes.”
The number of vendors is still growing. In time, About-Eid and Przybyl expect to carry more than 100.
Their baked goods — almond croissants, pain au chocolate, lemon poppyseed cookies, etcetera — sit on a display covered in burlap and wooden crates. The shop’s racks, tables, displays, fridges, and freezers show products with impressive range. Main Street Harvest stocks FARMi eggs and duck, Heartquist Hollow Family Farm pesto, Myke’s Pizza ice cream, DNA Chocolate, Bad Dog salsa, Benny Blanco tortillas, Steadfast Farm shoots, and far more. It carries fruit, vegetables, dairy, baked goods, honey, chocolate, and other true artisan products, all sourced from the cream of our food culture.
Some of those come within the Proof ranks. One of the market's cooler wrinkles is that Proof employees have the option to sell their own food products there, products separate from Proof Bread though made in its kitchen. One baker, Emerald Green, the driving talent behind Proof’s artful loaf scoring, sells lemon-ginger concentrate and artisan dog treats out of Main Street Harvest.
Though the market is open, Przybyl expects it to develop for many months. Its products occupy just half of its room's narrow space. He believes they will one day extend to the far back wall. This will help in catching up with demand — from both vendors and customers.
“Now, the vendors are coming our way,” Przybyl says. “People are coming to us. It’s absolutely insane. We’re hitting vendor and customer amounts that I would have expected for a year from now.”
He is also working to make vendor products more widely available. Four days a week, Proof Bread delivers its baked goods across the Valley. Now, Abou-Eid and Przybyl are expanding their delivery capacity to include Main Street Harvest products.
In addition, About-Eid and Przybyl are the new owners of two adjacent spaces downtown. First, this Main Street Harvest. Second, a grander, chandeliered, brick-walled space next door. The second spot, now under construction, will be Proof Bread’s new home bakery, set to open in spring. For now, as they have since 2017, they bake bread and pastries for Proof from their home garage (though there were some issues last year).
Business owners, small vendors, customers, and Main Street all stand to gain. Especially in a second pandemic year.
“These are people who have been inundated since COVID and are struggling, and we’ve asked them to start a market with us,” Przybyl says. “This has been a community thing since day one. It feels like just a family of people working together.”
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