A Taste of Newman’s Bakery in Bellville
After graduating from Bellville High School, wanderlust took Mike Newman to Europe where he spent a year in Italy and a year in Spain. He came home with the skill set of a chef and an Irish wife.
“I loved the way European craftsmen had their shops in the front of their homes,” Newman said. “There was no division between pride in their craft and pride in the lives. I wanted be a furniture builder or a tailor but neither developed. Cooking did.”
Soon, the young couple had a son.
Opening Newman’s Bakery in Bellville
Newman wanted to support his family by operating his own business. Bellville needed a bakery. While he had the skills of a home chef, he had no commercial baking experience, so he asked questions and apprenticed himself to a friend who owned a large bakery in Houston.
During the week, Newman worked at the Bellville Potato Chip Factory. Every weekend he traveled to Houston and worked for free. This went on for nine months.
“I was excited about learning new things,” Newman said.
Then the doubts about opening a restaurant set in. Newman took a break from his self-imposed apprenticeship.
“There is a practicality of turning a personal passion into a business,” Newman said. “There is a lot more to running a restaurant than loving to cook and feed people—about 50 percent of new restaurants fail within their first year and 50 percent [of those that remain] fail during their second year.”
When he returned to his friend’s business six weeks later, the professional baker took him aside and said, “Mike, it’s about time you open your own shop.”
Four months after that conversation, Newman’s Bakery opened at the site of a former convenience store where Newman shopped as a child. He bought it from the original owner.
The first day, he served glazed doughnuts and coffee. The second day, he served glazed doughnuts, chocolate doughnuts and coffee.
“Our menu grew from there,” he said, noting that the list 33 years later now includes a full hot breakfast and lunch as well doughnuts, kolaches, klobasniky, cakes, pies, cookies, pastries and a variety of breads.
The doors open at 4 a.m.
“Our staff starts making doughnuts at 3:30 a.m.,” Newman said. “If we’re here, there’s no reason not to be open for anyone else who might be up.”
For the first 25 years, Newman was the first one at work every day. Then he decided to take his first vacation and sailed a small boat across the Atlantic. When he returned to the bakery seven weeks later, he asked the crew, many of whom have been with him for decades, if they wanted to keep the vacation schedule in place or go back to the way it was before he went adventuring. They opted to work the early shift, so now Newman comes in later.
By the time he arrives, the locals are gathering for their regular coffee klatches, and the tourists are lining up to get their castle tickets and their fresh-baked goodies.
“Thirty-three years of making people smile,” Newman said. “All is right in my little kingdom.”