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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

True Blue expands into Hampstead with bakery

True Blue Butcher and Baker will open this summer in Hampstead’s former The Pretzel Man location. (Courtesy True Blue)

HAMPSTEAD — Only a few months after launching his third restaurant True Blue Butcher and Barrel in the South Front District, owner and chef Bobby Zimmerman is taking his brand across the Pender County line. He will launch True Blue Butcher and Baker in the former Pretzel Man spot on U.S. Highway 17 by the end of the summer. 

Zimmerman said demand from his other restaurants — in addition to Barrel, the Forum’s True Blue Butcher and Table and Mariposa — compelled him to go in search of a commercial bakery. It was former pastry chef, Julia Castellano of Little Loaf, who introduced him to The Pretzel Man. 

READ MORE: Old World European-style bakery to open on Wrightsville Avenue by early summer

“Geographically speaking, if you look at the location of our other restaurants, it was the most obvious next step,” Zimmerman said.

He plans to employ up to a dozen people at the location, including True Blue’s executive pastry chef Mackenzie Clements. Clements and her team will churn out 15 various flavors of breads, six to eight sweets, and 10 to 15 desserts for all of Zimmerman’s eateries. 

True Blue Baker will be operating as a retail outlet for the public as well. Items will include challah burger buns, sourdough focaccia, baguettes, Italian loaves, sourdough loaves, cinnamon rolls, seasonal muffins, and chocolate chunk cookies.

“We have spent the last several months perfecting the new recipes for the bread that will be for sale,” Zimmerman said.

Clements got her start in upstate New York at a traditional Italian bakery. When moving South, she worked at the Osteria Cicchetti group as assistant pastry chef and was a chocolatier. She has experience with allergen-free and vegan offerings as well.

Aside from bread, there will be select cuts of meats, wine, beer and other speciality offerings for sale. A one-stop True Blue take-home experience is what Zimmerman aims to deliver.

“Of course, it wouldn’t be True Blue without the addition of the butchers counter,” he said.

The butchery will present cuts of meat also offered at the restaurants. As well there will be DIY kits and butcher boxes, with unique products including OMed olive oil, Lady Edison Ham, and Spicewalla spices. Obscure wine and beer, curated by True Blue’s wine director Georges Courgnaud, will be sold.

The 3,200 square-foot turnkey bakery is outfitted with state-of-the-art, high-tech equipment. Formerly owned by Markus Schmid, who specialized in making German pretzels, Zimmerman said his impact on the Pender County community will not be lost. 

“We’re continuing to work with Markus to develop our own True Blue pretzels,” Zimmerman said.

There is no firm date on when the bakery’s doors will officially open. 

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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