“They’re still making the drive. They want to get out of the house,” says Brian Noyes of Virginia’s Red Truck Bakery. He’s referring to regular customers who live throughout Northern Virginia and even as far away as D.C., roughly an hour away. “And our redbuds are in bloom, all throughout the Virginia Piedmont. It’s worth the drive!”
More to the point, it’s a welcome departure from sheltering at home during the pandemic, and one that’s also perfectly legitimate. “We’re a food business,” he says. “So we’re essential. And we’re open.”
With two locations in what Noyes refers to as “the boonies of Virginia,” Red Truck has been a popular draw for discerning urban foodies for years, earning accolades and repeat business from President Obama, Marian Burros of the New York Times, and editors of Oprah’s O Magazine. Noyes himself gave up a successful career in publishing, including stints as the art director of the Washington Post and Smithsonian magazine, to launch Red Truck a decade ago as “a sweet, little, charming bakery that people love.”
Nearly two months ago, COVID-19 threatened to end all that as the coronavirus’ rapid spread forced the suspension of all in-store operations “until further notice,” leaving in its wake only the sales from nationwide delivery through UPS. Instead of shutting down altogether, Noyes decided to bulk up online by adding options for local pickup. “I built a new, local ordering website for preorders and parking lot pickup,” he says. The site, pickup.redtruckbakery.com, allows customers to place same-day orders at its main location in Marshall, Va.
Those orders go far beyond the gourmet sweet treat standards — Meyer lemon and rum cakes, say, or what Andrew Zimmern calls “the best granola in North America” — to include lots of savory standouts, such as focaccia, sandwiches, and lasagna. “We always had a soup of the day,” he says. “But darn it, it’s a whole new world! And we’re now making and selling frozen quarts of chicken noodle soup and veggie lentil soup.
“Everything freezes really well,” he continues. “So customers are stocking up on frozen chicken pot pies now that we make them. We’re making flatbread, sending out meatloaf. It’s more than a bakery. It’s now bulk items that’ll last several months in the freezer or a week or so in the fridge to keep a family fed. And they can get a pie or cake for dessert.”
Red Truck Bakery’s main location is at 8368 W. Main St., Marshall, Va. Pickup hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for same-day orders. Visit www.redtruckbakery.com.
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