Standing on the corner of Callender and Main streets in Livingston, the odors of freshly made baked goods fill the air and lure people in.
Turnovers, chocolate-covered macaroons, sticky buns, currant scones with candied ginger, and potato-apple cider doughnuts fill the bakery case. Pocket sandwiches, stuffed with meats and cheeses, and ham/basil/Havarti scones await customers who want a grab-and-go lunch.
Downtown has a new corner store. The Livingston Bodega and Bakery offers homemade baked goods, grocery items and lunch items.
Owner Flannery Coats (she’s writer Flannery O’Connor’s namesake) stresses local, quality ingredients and affordable products. Eggs, butter and flour come from nearby, and, as the growing season picks up in Montana, so will produce and fruit.
The Bodega opened in January.
“We’ve had an amazing reception from this town,” Coats said. “We have an awesome location and people seem to really appreciate and enjoy what we are doing.”
Coats was co-owner of the Polebridge Mercantile before she decided it was time to move to a bigger town. She spent a year and half selling T-shirts for her boyfriend, Danny Freund’s, band, The Bus Driver Tour. Livingston was home base as they traveled the state and got to know Montana.
During that time, Coats noted that a downtown market was an unfilled need.
“Getting to the grocery store was a walk into the wind,” she said. “I thought a downtown place, something a little like the Mercantile, would be nice.”
The first customers were writers and artists, according to Coats. “They understand the hard work that goes into a product and appreciate it,” she said. “But, we want to serve the whole, diverse community. We want to be a hometown bakery.” Now longtime locals, older folks looking for a cup of coffee and others have found the place.
“Meeting people through food is something that everyone needs,” Coats said. “We can fill that need and provide more than just an end product.”
Although, that end product is pretty tasty.
Coats, her brother and pastry chef, Jake Coats, and Julie Nelson do all the baking. Nelson is just in Livingston for the winter, but will be back in Polebridge when the Mercantile reopens in the summer.
Along with scrumptious baked goods, the coffee is drawing in fans. Until he goes back on tour this summer, Freund is in charge of roasting the 60 pounds of green coffee beans they order from Mr. Green Beans in Portland each month. Each night, he roasts the beans in a popcorn popper, for a fresh cup of pour-over joe in the morning.
“It’s like a convenience store, but all homemade.”
So far, Coats has been mostly focused on the bakery phase of the Bodega and Bakery and is now working on the bodega, or convenience store. Beans, peanut butter, squash, coffee filters and toilet paper fill shelves along the wall. She is working with other small stores in the area, as well as local farmers, to bring in more affordable groceries. Coats has applied for an offsite liquor license so she can add six-packs of beer to the grocery shelves.
Eventually, Coats will sell baked items like hamburger buns and bread to local restaurants. She’s already had to turn down requests while she gets the bakery up and running.
“We’ve been overwhelmingly supported by other businesses,” Coats said. “It’s crazy how small business-minded Livingston is.”
If you go
Livingston Bodega and Bakery
Address: 101 N. Main St., Livingston
Winter hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, closed Sundays
From The Great Falls Tribune, April 10, 2015