Dough Just Keeps On Rollin'

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Pecan Rolls and Pumpkin Scones Among the
Tasty Treats At Local Crust & Crumb

By Colleen Lent

Hampton Union, Tuesday, December 18, 2001

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
David Keimach stands in front of some bread and bagels at the Crust and
Crumb Bakery & Café in Hampton on Friday morning.
[Photo by Carrie Niland]

HAMPTON -- As a full-time chiropractor for nearly 20 years, David Keimach,, owner of the Crust & Crumb Bakery and Café of Hampton, said he enjoyed his job, but knew something was missing.

"I just wanted to stay home and have breakfast with my wife," he said. Cutting his hours in half, he did just that.

Perhaps it was those early morning conversations over coffee and scones that prompted the Keimachs to revisit a former business dream of cooking up breakfast and lunch for others. Keimach explained that they explored joining the Dunkin' Donuts franchise team about 10 years ago, but decided the only opportunity at the time — an Albany store — wasn't the ideal location for them.

When a prime spot on Lafayette Road In Hampton opened up more recently, the coupled donned their entrepreneurial caps and launched an independent venture.

With Crust & Crumb's one-year anniversary approaching in January, Keimach said they're enjoying the life of new business owners. Admittedly, offering a host of fresh menu items, ranging from chocolate walnut brownies to on-site smoked pulled pork in a sourdough boule with barbecue sauce, requires an alarm clock set for 3 a.m.

"It's very difficult to do from scratch." Keimach said. In fact, it sourdough bread actually takes about a week of proper preparation.

Meanwhile, David is still working three days a week straightening backs, while Shary is maintaining her career as an interior designer, a talent that proved invaluable to the layout and decor of their 3,000-square-foot Café.

Handmade valances in the shape of a jester's collar and faux finish painted walls provide evidence of Shary's creative touch.

Sitting momentarily at one of the cafe's immaculate cherry wood tables, Keimach talked about the restaurant's daily routine that allows them to open its doors at 6:30 a.m. to greet the commuter crowd.

The oversized convection oven, about the size of a small elevator, is first warmed up to 325 degrees to accommodate low-temperature items, such as pecan rolls. By the end of the bake lineup, the temperature is up to 425 degrees, giving loaves of focaccia bread their soft inside and golden outside.

"There' s something very different about something that's baked out of the freezer," Keimach said, adding that the home-baked distinction is building a loyal customer base. Clients include individual regulars, grabbing a cup of Hungarian mushroom soup or cappuccino, and commercial accounts, ordering continental breakfast and business meeting lunch platters.

A big seller with a wide range of Seacoasters is the café's oversized lobster roll a fresh-baked submarine roll topped with salad made from the meat of two lobsters.

While new menu items are routinely introduced, the actual recipe for a particular item doesn't vary once it's received a thumbs up from the discerning palates of customers.

"We go to the ounce," Keimach said. "Everything is weighed." He said guesswork in the kitchen when mixing different batches results in inconsistency in taste and quality and, ultimately, customer disappointment.

One thing that is unpredictable is the number of daily customers, which can vary with a special event, increasing in town traffic, homebound.

"It's a balancing act," Keimach said. "You try not to run out." At the same time, not selling day-old product means tossing leftovers on a daily basis.

Employee Kristy Gopalan said a local book club rush on the cafés six different kinds of brownies saved the chocolate creations from such an unfortunate demise. Keimach added that some local nonprofit organizations, offering meal assistance, have stopped by to pick up otherwise discarded baked goods.

Ideas aren't stale at Crust & Crumb, either, according to Keimach. The cafe staff, headed by baker Betty Swart, formally trained in culinary arts and catering, suggests new menu items to satisfy customer taste buds.

"It was a gut feeling with Betty," Keimach said, referring to the decision to hire her. "I was 100 per-cent right. She's a diamond, really."

November behind-the-scenes brainstorming resulted in pumpkin scones as a Thanksgiving treat. Public demand led to a repeat appearance in the front display case after the holiday.

"We have what they expect, but we always have something new and exciting," Keimach said. "We don't want the customers to get bored."

As a plain croissant or mug of French roast coffee caters to the traditionalist, a loaf of olive pesto bread or cup of Chai tea tempts the adventurous. Venison stew and chili are being introduced in the near future to celebrate the cafe's first anniversary and to kick off the new year.

"It's a serious business, but it has to be fun, too," Keimach said.

[Post Script: "Breakfast is now being served as of April 6, 2002 at the Crust & Crumb Bakery & Café; featuring fresh & homemade bagels, belgian waffles, breads, cinnamon buns, cookies, corned beef hash, croissants, danish, English muffins, french toast, fruit & yogurt parfait, home fries, omelets, pancakes, pastries and more ..... prepared just for you here in our kitchen."]

The Crust & Crumb Bakery and Café, located at 881 Lafayette Road in Hampton, is open seven days a week. For details, call 929-0700.

[PLEASE NOTE: The Crust & Crumb Bakery & Café closed their doors on Sunday, July 20, 2003]

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