After 37 years spent at a familiar spot on Mud Bay Road in west Olympia, Blue Heron Bakery finally pulled up stakes last month and moved 1.4 miles east to a new development on Harrison Avenue.
The new location is bigger, brighter, has indoor seating (and outdoor seating, too), a modern point-of-sale system and an automatic dishwasher. Before, all dishes were washed by hand, longtime owner Evan Price, 50, said. The new place has indoor bathrooms, too — the business used a port-a-potty at its previous location.
A larger space and the need to modernize were some of the factors behind the move, but Price hasn’t forgotten his roots.
The original Blue Heron Bakery sign hangs behind the counter, the original paneling used in the old building has been incorporated into the design of the new one, and tables and countertops have been created out of reclaimed wood.
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There also are mementos from Blue Heron’s Mud Bay Road days, including a framed announcement of the bakery’s grand opening in 1978, an acoustic guitar of special significance hangs on one wall, plus there’s the symbol of the bakery itself — the blue heron.
A counter mural features an etched blue heron, courtesy of Olympia designer Dennis Lyon, who also helped with other interior design elements of the bakery, Price said.
“I tried to bring the history and warmth of the old space to the new space,” he said.
And then there’s the new menu. Blue Heron now is serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well pizza, which is sold by the slice, halves or wholes. There also are soups and salads, plus the business is planning to offer weekend breakfasts, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Looking for something sweet? Blue Heron also is making its own ice cream, which it will serve as a sandwich, in a milkshake, on a cone or on a dish. Want a dish of vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over it? They’ll do that, too, he said.
Not to be forgotten: the bakery still bakes bread three days a week.
Since opening at the new address, customer Larry Eickstaedt of Olympia said he’s come nearly every day, partly because it has indoor seating.
“I’m impressed,” he said, adding that the staff is friendly. He’s also glad to see business picking up, he said.
Another customer, Vanessa Ruddy, who splits her time between Olympia and Tucson, Arizona, said the new location feels fresh. “I like to support places that support people and their health,” she said, commenting on the all-natural approach to baking and cooking at the bakery.
Price’s only regret is that his mother wasn’t alive to see what Blue Heron has become. He credits her for infusing him with an entrepreneurial spirit, and for showing him that one can lead without the need for a harsh demeanor, Price said.
“I’m really proud and thankful about what we accomplished,” he said.