Eight years after Publican Quality Bread began as a small side operation in the basement of Publican Quality Meats, it’s finally moving above ground with a space of its very own in West Town. Technically, PQB has been in operation for the past several months baking for its wholesale clients, but Monday, June 6, its retail counter opens to the public.
In addition to PQB’s signature whole-grain breads, head baker Greg Wade and his team will also produce breakfast pastries — plain on weekdays, decadent on the weekends — along with tartines and sandwiches. The highlight of the sandwich menu, known simply as the Big Sandwich, is made from trays of Roman pizza crust stuffed with mortadella, Stracciatella, arugula, Vidalia onions, Dijon, and sour cherry spread and will be available by the pound. There will also be pre-made sandwiches and salads for customers in a hurry. The coffee will be from La Colombe, and eventually, there will be sidewalk seating.
The retail space is a very small part of the 4,200-square-foot bakery. PQB produces 16,000 pounds of dough per week, the majority of which will be turned into bread for the rest of the One Off Hospitality family (including Publican and Avec) and 75 other shops and restaurants around the city.
For breads, Wade, who won the James Beard Award for outstanding baker in 2019, uses a special blend of flour grown at Spence Farms — it’s called WTF because it’s a mix of Warthog, Turkey Red, and Red Fife wheat — and stone ground at Janie’s Mill, both in central Illinois. The loaves are hand shaped and left to rise in baskets, then cut and baked in a behemoth of a commercial oven that is the centerpiece of the bakery.
Most importantly for a bakery that got its start in a basement, there’s plenty of natural light from the large windows that look out on Grand Avenue. They also allow passersby to look inside and see how their daily bread gets made.
Publican Quality Bread, 1759 W. Grand Avenue, Open 7 a.m. to 6 pm. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Opens June 6.