If you're a fan of Zack Hall's remarkable breads, you know how much of a Los Angeles treasure hunt it can be to find them: at farmers markets, through delivery services, on the menu at Trois Mec. Hall, a 30-year-old former musician, opened his one-man company Clark Street Bread earlier this year, and has been baking bread mostly in his 900-square-foot West Hollywood apartment.
After baking his 3-kilo miches, whole wheat and country white boules, and Danish ryes in an old white Frigidaire oven in his apartment, Hall finally bought a secondhand, 2,500-pound Werner and Pfleiderer Matador deck oven. Which, of course, did not fit into his kitchen. At which point he got in touch with the folks at the very large Grand Central Market, stored his oven in their basement and started a pop-up.
Now Hall has moved the oven up to the market, into the stalls across from Sticky Rice 2 where La Adelita Bakery used to be, and has started baking, making all the bread for his small business in the space. His new retail hours begin Monday; Clark Street will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 8 a.m. until Hall is out of bread.
Hall says he loves the atmosphere at GCM and is really enjoying working out of a bigger space than his kitchen. "It feels good. I immediately feel akin to downtown."
Now that he's has finally fired up his big oven, Hall says that he's planning on increasing his production. The Matador can fit 30 loaves at a time, depending on the size of them, so Hall's been producing between 25 and 50 loaves a day. He hopes to double this output very quickly, and then further expand, he says ideally to 200 loaves a day. He'll likely expand what he's baking, too, adding sweetbreads and baking for the other vendors in the market.
Hall might even hire someone to help him. Right now, he not only does all the production and baking, but he makes his own deliveries — mostly to the corner of Melrose and Highland, to Ludo Lefebvre's two restaurants, Trois Mec and Petit Trois. Clark Street also sends bread to Barney's, Cookbook and Good Eggs, and Hall continues to attend the Sunday Melrose Place farmers market.
While there have been many new vendors opening at downtown's Grand Central Market in the last year, having an operational bakery is hugely significant. Although there used to be thriving bakeries at the 97-year old market, since La Adelita closed a couple years ago, the market has been missing one of these most fundamental of shops. Now in addition to the glorious aromas of carnitas from Las Morelianas and green curry from Sticky Rice, shoppers can smell freshly baked bread.
Check out my pictures of bread on Instagram @ascattergood.