“It was really scary. Everything just shut down pretty much overnight,” says Laura Yaghoobian, who runs Wild Flour’s financial side of the business while husband Nishon works as its baker.
“A lot of customers closed once all the restrictions went into place. No one was doing any catering. It was frightening.”
Wild Flour laid off its delivery drivers, and Yaghoobian knew she and her husband needed a plan B as soon as possible.
They soon found it close to their Claymont home.
Laura Yaghoobian, a mother of three, said she began reading comments from hunkered down Delaware residents on a north Wilmington moms Facebook page and the Nextdoor app. They often mentioned empty bread shelves at area stores and expressed fears about going grocery shopping.
While Wild Flour still had a reliable customer base at weekend farmers markets in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square and Head House Square as well as in Collingswood, New Jersey, and Burlington County, New Jersey, the Yaghoobians needed more income to make up for the lost business.
That’s when Laura hit upon the idea to bring Wild Flour’s baked goods to a new crop of customers in the Wilmington community.
“We live here. It made sense to start offering the products,” she says.
She began posting free home delivery services on social media sites.
It has proven to be a lifeline and a big boost to Wild Flour’s future, and it eventually could lead to even more services for customers.
“For us, it’s been a godsend,” said Yaghoobian, who started out with free home deliveries to customers in north Wilmington about four or five times a week.
Yaghoobian said she has added more than 1,000 customers through social media and word-of-mouth since starting the deliveries.
As her wholesale customers have slowly reopened their own businesses, Yaghoobian says she has scaled back deliveries around New Castle County now to Wednesdays only, but the delivery service is still free.
Liana Pope, who lives in north Wilmington, has become a regular on the Wild Flour delivery route. She says the Yaghoobians “could have just thrown up their hands, but instead, they adapted.”
“I have so much admiration for them,” Pope says. “We order weekly from Wild Flour and are thrilled to support a local Delaware neighbor, plus, we get the simple joy each week of having fresh bakery goods show up on our doorstep.”
Having bread delivered to her home is not just convenient, Pope says, it also is one more added level of safety during the COVID-19 health crisis.
“It is a bright spot to our family as we continue to take sheltering in place seriously.”
Wild Flour’s breads and pastries are produced by Nishon at the bakery’s home at 8701 Torresdale Ave. in Philadelphia’s Upper Holmesburg area in the northeast.
A restaurant employee since he was a preteen, Nishon has cooked in a variety of eateries and eventually became the executive pastry chef at Philadelphia’s now-closed Striped Bass restaurant.
While there, he baked bread not only for Striped Bass, but also its sister restaurants: Rouge, Bleu and Avenue B.
By 2003, Nishon was ready to start his own venture baking bread for the city’s restaurants. His first location was in South Philadelphia. Three years later, Wild Flour moved to its present 3,600-square-foot spot.
Wild Flour makes a variety of breads, including hearth baguettes ($3), ciabatta rolls ($6 a half-dozen), tomato and mozzarella focaccia ($6), sun-dried tomato-Asiago loaves ($6), and garlic soft roll knots ($5 a half-dozen).
The business sells pullman loaves, cinnamon-raisin breads, marble-rye sandwich loaves and sourdough sandwich bread for about $7 each.
A 1-pound ball of raw pizza dough is $5, while rosemary and garlic flatbread is $2. Sweet treats include chocolate chip cookies; brownies; carrot cake squares; and blueberry, peach and cherry hand pies.
The bakery also offers vegan quick breads and vegan granola and sells yeast and flour for customers who want to bake at home.
Customers can order and pay online at wildflourbakery.net. Orders must be in by noon the day before delivery.
Laura Yaghoobian says she has delivered care packages and birthday baskets to various customers, including deliveries to nursing homes.
“It’s been great for people who aren’t comfortable going out,” she says. “It’s been really phenomenal. We have many loyal and repeat customers.”
Business has been so good, Yaghoobian says, she is looking to hire a part-time delivery person and may expand the bakery’s offerings, especially around the upcoming holidays, to include more pies and cookies and prepared foods.
“We built up a nice customer base and they continue to order,” she says. “As long as there is interest in this, I’m going to keep doing it.”
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