Manifest Bread, a sourdough startup with a devoted DMV following, now has a brick-and-mortar bakery in Riverdale Park. And if early sales numbers are any indication, cutting carbs clearly isn’t a New Year’s resolution for many Marylanders.
The organic bakery off the Route 1 corridor (6208 Rhode Island Avenue, Riverdale Park, Maryland) made and sold around 400 cookies and pastries and over 250 loaves, baguettes, and bialys during opening weekend this month. Hours are Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Wednesday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and until 7 p.m. on Thursdays with Riverdale Park Farmer’s Market.
“Bread has been going fast. It takes three days [to] make what you see on the shelf,” says Rick Cook, who owns the fledgling bakery with his wife, Tyes.
The fine-dining restaurant vets started the grassroots business out of their home in 2018, and pandemic demand for loaves helped Manifest become a bonafide delivery and pre-order operation.
Its word-of-mouth sourdough got a big break last fall with a prominent placement on Michelin-starred chef Johnny Spero’s Basque-themed menu at Bar Spero, served with La Tur butter or on its own. Rick Cook previously cooked at Eric Ziebold’s now-closed CityZen, Blacksalt, Etto, and 2Amys, while Tyes managed operations at places like Pearl Dive, Fiola Mare, Del Mar, and Obelisk.
Baguettes—cooked “bold and dark like all of our breads”—are its most sought-after menu item and can’t seem to stay in stock, he says. They’re made mostly with sourdough, a tap of yeast, and “a good measure” of freshly-milled mixed organic grains.
A $60,000 fundraising effort helped the couple purchase essential equipment like a stone mill made in Vermont that mills most of its flour in-house, a dough mixer, and massive deck oven.
Meanwhile, its cookies have proven “impossible to keep up with demand,” he says. Three opening varieties include chocolate chip walnut, ginger molasses, and oatmeal and date—its only gluten-free offering as of now. Other successful sweets out of the gate include chocolate babka and pear jelly crumbles. Spicy sweet potato focaccia by the slice consistently sells out “so quickly,” he adds. The sleeper hit is its “Bran-ana” muffin, which makes use of Manifest’s excess bran, ripe bananas, and buttermilk.
The tiny cafe with a walk-up counter carves out room for just two two-top tables, a three-seat bar, and brass kick-rail stand to “slug a quick cortado,” he says. Starting Thursday, January 19, wine on tap and by the bottle will enter the fold, along with beer and cocktails later on.
He hopes customers stay patient as Manifest finds its footing opening with a skeleton crew; “we are looking for good help like everyone else,” he says. The couple’s 3-year-old and 11-month-old sons are keeping them busy at home, too.
Manifest is currently hiring bakers, prep cooks, dishwashers, and a barista.