Going into this interview, I felt sure that my extreme passion for carbs (especially in bread) was unsurpassed. But Brian Evans, aka "Fermentation Specialist" and Managing Partner of On the Rise, quickly put me to shame.
Breakfast favorites include luscious and delectable sticky buns (with nuts and without) as well as their chocolate croissants. Each weekend these best-sellers top out around 300-400 sold each.
In a pumpkin state of mind? Seasonal offerings include a pumpkin scone with candied ginger and pumpkin roll. Oh yeah, and homemade apple butter.......
But let's get back to bread and the baker.
Brian got his roots at popular jaunts such as Fire and Parallax before he started a food truck to test the waters for Cleveland's appetite for his culinary offerings. But without a strong business plan, or one at all, Brian quickly realized he was over-committed to working all hours of the day on the food truck. Not only that, he wanted to get back to the basics and learn more about making bread. And not the way bread was currently being made, the kind that takes days to proof and grow yeasty and fabulous. He joined On the Rise team, which was operating as a retail bakery to do just that. Over the next two years, the business quickly grew and took over more square footage to serve their rabid fan base.
Brian is focused on the purity of the bread and most importantly to the digestive properties that set it apart, In fact, On the Rise supports a local farm for its wheat in Athens Ohio. This uber-fresh ingredient let them cut back on the need for yeast as a starter because it contained so many natural active enzymes because it had been farmed so recently. In Brian's words, it created a "happy dough". And that's the key for this dedicated bakery to give its customers the best quality product that truly is nutritious without the sacrifice of adding in artificial ingredients.
You can enjoy this bread with cult classics like Pork Bahn Mi with local braised pork, pork pate, pickled carrot and daikon, cilantro and special sauce. Not surprisingly, not many customers are hungry after this tasty treat warms their belly. I can also speak first hand for the seemingly simple ham and gruyere baguette. The creamy cheese paired with the tangy, salty bites of ham and heavenly chewy bread makes me feel like I'm walking the streets of Paris with locally made street food.
On the Rise recently opened their second location in the Van Aken district which helped take the edge off the lines of customers that wrapped around the block at the original location. While sales at the Fairmount location dropped 10% due to the opening, sales overall for the business grew 40%. Not only that, but they opened themselves up to a bigger market and the ability to serve more customers easily. And who knows? Brian remained mum on the topic but I'd bet a third location isn't far off. For the residents of the Westside, I've got my fingers crossed for you!
I have to be honest, I could have talked with Brian for hours. He's truly full of great knowledge, stories and passion. I hope you can visit him soon and thank him for his early morning hours to turn out the warm treats we enjoy almost daily.
Not close to the actual bakery? Their products can also be found at Metropolitan, the Flying Fig, Market Garden, Summerhouse and Tavern Company restaurants.
Note: They are closed Monday to recover from the weekend rush!
3471 Fairmount Blvd Cleveland Heights OH 44118 (At this time, they are only accepting online orders)
Van Aken Market Hall 3407 Tuttle Rd, Shaker Heights OH 44122