Small State Provisions will have a grand opening celebration, in partnership with the WeHa Artists Emporium, on Sept. 30 for their new Avon bakery and cafe.
By Ronni Newton
When Kevin Masse obtained his cottage food license in 2019 to launch Small State Provisions – not long after the State of Connecticut first authorized cottage food operations – he was baking small batches of two types of sourdough bread and olive oil maple granola in his West Hartford kitchen.
With the opening of the new bakery in Avon in August, he now has two physical locations.
Masse grew the business through word-of-mouth marketing (appropriate for his delicious product) and social media, and he offered a subscription service. The high quality was evident in every bite. He and his husband had moved to West Hartford from New York City several years before launching the business, and Masse still had a full-time job as head of digital and social partnerships for Bake from Scratch Magazine.
Masse is the type of success story that those who obtain a cottage food license can only dream of. Small State Provisions soon outgrew the capacity of his home kitchen, and in the summer of 2021 he opened his first brick and mortar location – a micro-bakery at West Hartford’s GastroPark.
While initially open just a few days a week, the bakery became an integral part of GastroPark’s success. During the daytime hours many could be found sitting either outside on the food truck park’s patio, or inside, enjoying a scone from Small State and coffee from their resident vendor (originally Perkatory, now Alvarium).
Small State Provisions soon outgrew the GastroPark space, however, and while it remains open Masse has relocated the production facilities to Avon, where this summer he opened a new location that also includes a café at 205 Old Farms Road. The grand opening of the Avon location will be celebrated on Saturday, Sept. 30, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., during an event that is also a collaboration with the WeHa Artists Emporium which will hold an art market.
Noted chef and cookbook author Terry Walters – whose contribution is also key to the success of Small State Provisions – also plans to attend the grand opening.
Masse said he launched the business with a sourdough starter given to him by Walters after he took one of her bread making classes, and he has continued to nurture it and to this day that’s what he uses for the breads and other sourdough items that remain the core of his business. He named his starter “Mother Teresa” (naming a starter is very common, he said) starter, and he chose the name because “it’s always giving back.”
“We’ve moved all of our production here,” Masse said as he gave a tour of the Avon location, adding that there are no plans to leave GastroPark, to which they deliver product from Avon every day. “We love the community,” he said.
They were originally looking for a larger space, and had no plans to open a second Small State location in another town, but he never found the right spot in West Hartford. While the locations are only about 20 minutes apart, it’s ultimately giving Small State access to a whole new community and potential customers.
The Avon space, vacant for several years but formerly the bakery for Truffles, is 2,200 square feet, and is located directly in front of Hopmeadow Brewing Company and near the Farmington Canal Heritage bike trail, with large windows that provide a sweeping view of Talcott Mountain, Heublein Tower, and a waterskiing school. It’s about a mile from Route 44.
It took about a year to design, build out, and open the new location.
There’s seating inside as well as on the patio in front.
The bread takes center stage. “I designed this space to really showcase the bread,” Masse said, “and so the guests could see into the oven.” Because the production space is visible to guests, the bakers can also see into the rest of the space and feel fully connected to the business.
The gas-powered oven allows for 65 to 75 loaves to be baked at a time on vertical racks. The oven at GastroPark fit only five sheets of cookies, but the new oven fits 18. “It’s been a huge upgrade to have this,” he said.
Masse had a connection to Alvarium – providing pastries for their New Britain location even before they moved into GastroPark, and he has kept that relationship going. While Small State has its own in-house coffee service, all the beans are from Alvarium.
Small State Provisions became Masse’s full-time pursuit at the beginning of 2022 when he had six employees and decided that if they were willing to work for him, it was time for him to make the business his livelihood as well. Now Small State employs 18 people, with a team of bakers that includes Patrick Michaud, who previously worked at Nantucket’s famed Something Natural bakery.
In addition to the bread, the ginger cookies and chocolate chip cookies have become crowd favorites, as have the scones – which are made with 100% organic berries and whole wheat flour and are deliciously moist and not overly sweet.
“We’re always trying new things,” Masse said, but keeping to their goal of being at least 95% organic and sourcing as much as possible locally. Baking using the sourdough starter is a time-consuming process, with the dough needing to proof overnight.
They’ve been baking Japanese milk breads, made with cooked milk and flour. Masse said he had gotten some organic cherries, and planned to experiment with a cherry milk bread. He had some peaches, and planned to test out peach and blue cheese focaccia.
While the GastroPark location menu hasn’t changed, those same items plus much more are available in Avon, and plans are to continue to expand the offerings. They’re currently working on the production of croissants and pain au chocolate.
“We have an amazing breakfast sandwich,” Masse said, featuring baked eggs on focaccia.
Some of the customers at the Avon location come over Talcott Mountain from West Hartford because it’s actually closer for them, but there’s still a great crowd at GastroPark, he said. There are more new visitors from Avon every day, including those who can walk from Country Club Road.
In addition to the Avon and GastroPark locations, Small State Provision’s bread can be found at area restaurants including Millwright’s, Present Company, Terreno, Gather55, Blue Plate Kitchen, Metro Bis, and at Hartford Flavor Company’s cafe. They collaborate with as many local organizations as possible, including for the stamping of their bags, which is done by students in the West Hartford Public Schools post-secondary program.
Small State Provisions is open in Avon at 205 Old Farms Road and in West Hartford at GastroPark, 637 New Park Avenue, on Wednesday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.
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