I have enjoyed reading all of your comments and feedback on this forum. Thank you for your support and for your comments. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on your American Flatbread Experience.
Some answers to what may have seemed vague about American Flatbread:
1. George Schenk, the founder of American Flatbread is not “Native American” he began building stone ovens from the intriguing childhood and young adult cooking experiences he had in the Boy Scouts. His educational training is in biology, which has impacted many of his decisions as a cook, chef and builder of his unique ovens. The oven was a success of an experiment he busied himself over 25 years ago with fire and bread. His research of traditional Quebec wood fired ovens is what led to his personalized design that creates superior flatbread.
2. For those of you who are familiar with the original location in Waitsfield Vermont, you are correct the look and feel is different. The challenge and goal was not to make a cookie cutter copy of what is in Vermont, but rather, create a platform for “sharing the food” with the local Ashburn community and surrounding areas. I think the following excerpt that was written in criticism of American Flatbread choosing Ashburn as a community does well to explain our choice.
Excerpt from a letter written by George Schenk to Burlington Free Press writer Ed Shamy in his critique of Ashburn as a location:
“So why did we go to Ashburn?
Because in the end it seemed that kids and their families in Ashburn – as much as anywhere – need and deserve meaningful food; great food should not be just the province of the hip and the green and the lucky, but something that is available to as many of those who ask as we, and other producers of good food, can sustainably provide.
One of my hopes for the Ashburn sister bakery is that food and ideas of American Flatbread help stimulate deeper conversations within the greater Ashburn community about the relationship between good food, good health and healthy environments, and that through its purchasing the Ashburn bakery is able to showcase the excellent food from local farms that is still available – directly benefiting these small farms – and maybe act as a catalyst for a larger community conversation about the role and value of small farms in our communities. We will not stop bulldozing farm land until we value the good food that comes from it and see the importance of small local and regional agriculture to our environment, our health, and our sense of community.
The values of socially responsible business practices that are at the core of American Flatbread are not unique to Vermont, but they are well rooted here, and that commonness and success gives us all courage.”—George Schenk
3. Many of the comments I have read note the price point of the Flatbreads. Your observations are correct about the price being high compared to Domino’s or Pizza Hut. Very simply, we have no desire to be Domino’s or Pizza Hut. Too often we (as American consumers) are left with food choices that are mediocre at best. Anyone who has made food knows that time, skill and choosing the best ingredients is what creates superior flavors and textures that we all crave. Buying ingredients that are local, organic, hormone-free is not cheap. Organic products are generally 15-20% more costly than the conventional alternatives. So too, is produce and meat, which can be more expensive from your local neighborhood farmer. The time and labor that we put into hand shaping, and fermenting our dough is purposeful and for legitimate reasons, these methods affect the crust that is so special.
So often in our communities, food choices like this are not available to people because they are found only in restaurants providing the same ingredients starting at $25 dollars a person. By sharing this food communally with your table we believe you get to experience the special flavors and textures of this food at a price closer to $10-15 dollars a person.
It is important that you analyze what you deem valuable. If you are satisfied committing your food dollars to Domino’s, you may be missing what American Flatbread is providing. We realize what we (in the American Flatbread organization; including our customers) feel is valuable may be beyond what the Ashburn community is currently prepared for—the vision is to positively change how Americans view their food choice through educating our customers; when we provide a positive American Flatbread experience, I believe we are accomplishing this goal.
4. Coke & Pepsi:
--it is true that our California bakery serves Coke, which is made from a Coke plant that uses natural cane sugars. Our main interest in not carrying Coke and Pepsi products is our belief that by not buying high fructose corn syrup products we represent a stance for change against the over use of HFCS. You would be fascinated by this link.
Furthermore, we are interested in stimulating local food, and food products. Recently we had a local soda jerk in Vermont approach us with a really amazing Root Beer made from local sassafras roots that we have “on tap”—the flavor is amazing! Those are the kind of entrepreneurs/artisans we want to partner with and support. We think this is ultimately better for our customers and in the interest in changing the industrial food model.
5. Take Out: your initial observations have been noted. Thanks for the feedback. Our policy for To-go’s is: to-go flatbread depends on current demand - if we have guests waiting for a table and our oven station is busy we aren’t able to accommodate to-go’s. If we think it is feasible to make a to-go for a guest we will do the best we can. If you would like a to-go, please ask and we will do our best to field your request.
6. All of our desserts are made in-house. As for the apple pie, I believe we have taken necessary steps to correct what sounded like recipe execution problems. I would encourage you to try it again.
7. You are right that Scott and Janice Vasko, owners of Ashburn Hearth, visited the restaurant in Waitsfield and are fans. They have 50 years of combined experience in the food and restaurant business. Furthermore, they have recognized and appreciate the values of American Flatbread and are committed and respectable members of their home community of Ashburn, VA.