Sourdough Devotion: Persephone Bakery skyrockets from small town bakery to big fish in a growing pond

By on October 25, 2017

Even from the outside, with its white-wood paneled walls, and the wooden sign that hangs invitingly above the door advertising their name in charming calligraphy, Persephone Bakery is just about as “cute” as Jackson Hole gets.

When you walk through the door, even if there’s no line trailing down the front steps with people waiting to order impeccably-baked muffins or cinnamon-scented lattes, the smallness of the space that houses Persephone can be a bit off-putting. Don’t let that stop you in your tracks, though.

When you first step into Persephone, it feels a bit like, well, how giants would probably feel if they came into your home. Every inch of the bakery and coffee shop is utilized, with tables and nooks filled with devoted fans.

Still, even with the limited space, there’s usually a corner for you to squeeze into, or a miraculously-appearing table in the garden once you’ve ordered from their delicious seasonal menu.

The bakery was first opened in 2011 by Ali and Kevin Cohane, and quickly became a town favorite. It’s easy to see why, though. Kevin works with careful precision to create quality baked goods, with a gentle, knowing hand given to even the most basic ingredients or methods of baking.

Ali’s immaculate eye for design and aesthetics helps complete the setup, and together, the couple have created a uniquely cozy  experience for diners.

The baristas, all adorned in clean white blouses and pinstriped bakery smocks, stand behind their display case, which is always filled with crisp, fluffy, (and sometimes sugarcoated) pastries, ready to take your order.

A quick glance around the room becomes a bit like a food lover’s game of I Spy: You’ll find cookbooks like Yottam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty” lining the walls resting alongside artisanal honey and beautiful clay bowls. Ali’s taste in decor is truly impeccable.

The end goal of a visit to Persephone doesn’t much matter. Whether you visit the bakery to pick up a loaf of sour-dough bread or simply sit for a long breakfast, coffee and pastry, or lunch, Persephone has the kind of charm that allows them to play Jason Mraz without it being corny or unpleasant.

I recently tested out their fresh sourdough bread by making a deliciously gooey “grilled” cheese sandwich with fig preserves, caramelized onions and a medley of gruyere, cheddar and swiss cheese.

It was easy to see why Persephone is a staple for baked goods in Jackson. The crust of my sourdough grilled cheese was perfectly crunchy yet not too thick, and the fluffy, chewy sour dough has just the right amount of bubble from the sourdough starter they meticulously keep alive.

After four years of increasing success, the couple opened a sister restaurant called Picnic across town, offering a similar yet more open and free-flowing atmosphere and space.

It is equally as frequented and popular as the mothership. Offering slightly different fare and a moderately more modern feel, Picnic is just as likely to be the type of cafe to bring your laptop to as it is a place for a quick meet-up over an open-faced sandwich.

What many may not know about the Persephone franchise is, though, that while having the monopoly on this style of retail bakery in Jackson, they actually have a monopoly on baked goods throughout the food industry in Jackson.

Ask any restauranteur or caterer in Jackson, and they’re likely to tell you that they source their breads, pastries and buns from Persephone.

The duo has a commercial bakery just off Deer Drive produces enough goods daily to keep burgers snug and loaves of bread buttered throughout our busiest seasons. A remarkable feat when you think about how many mouths are fed in Jackson restaurants during the busiest times of the year, and in a continually growing food scene in Jackson.

With competitors on the rise, such as Nom Nom Doughnuts and numerous artisanal pie, bread and pastry makers who sell at the farmers markets through the summer, Persephone and Co.’s strength in the market is a testament to the dedication to quality in their products.

It’s a demand that looks likely to continue, as even with a mass production their baked goods have not lost an iota of their quality, and continue to be the top choice for local eateries.  PJH

 

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