In a culture brimming with a constant flow of information, “alternative facts” and content, the slower-paced, analog-inspired way of living has started to resurface—a statement against the ever-present hustle of 21st century life.
Case in point: the rising influx of coffee shops and cafes that shrug off the expectation of free Wi-Fi in favor of conversation and uninterrupted reflection. Flowers & Bread, one of Clintonville’s newest businesses is the latest purveyor of such experiences, bringing simple, beautiful offerings to the table: fresh cut flowers, artfully crafted coffee, and homemade bread.
The vision of Trisha Wheeler, the publisher of Edible Columbus, and Sarah Lagrotteria, a recent L.A. transplant, the café/bakery/floral studio has its roots in butter—decadent, delicious, homemade butter.
Almost immediately after moving to Ohio, Lagrotteria connected with Wheeler through mutual friends who anticipated an instant connection between the two. Both were writers and both had been trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York. This lent itself to a natural partnership that found legs at Wheeler’s cooking school, the Seasoned Farmhouse. Here, among other things, they taught eager students how to turn heavy cream into heavenly butter.
“In central Ohio, we have incredible dairy, and we realized that we needed better bread—really good bread—to go with the butter we were making,” said Lagrotteria on a sunny morning, sipping coffee in Flowers & Bread’s small, but cozy cafe space. “And then we asked ourselves, what else are we interested in? And for both of us it was flowers and floral arranging.”
In short, with flowers, bread, and coffee (a natural addition to the concept), their mission became focused on celebrating beauty, sustenance, and conversation. Or, as Lagrotteria frames it, “Simple pleasures that often get overlooked.”
Both Wheeler and Lagrotteria knew that in order to fully embrace the ethos of those tenets, the space and location would be critical. They took a page from Wheeler’s previous projects (like the Seasoned Farmhouse) and renovated one of Clintonville’s original homes, keeping the original floors and resurrecting the original fireplace—the perfect hearth around which to orient the entire experience.
And experience is what Flowers & Bread seeks to provide. With oversized farm chairs and cushioned banquettes, customers can’t help but cozy up with the morning paper and a latte from the coffee bar. Surrounded by the baking workspace and a light-filled floral studio, this is a place to slow down, to take a break, and to indulge in the quiet that only comes from disconnecting.
Large windows give a peek into the kitchen, where the intentionality that drives slow culture is on full display. The bread, made with local grain, is kneaded, proofed, and baked mere feet from where it will be eventually sold in the café, next to homemade pastries and shelves of local products like honey and (of course) butter.
As with the bakery, the floral studio pays homage to the spirit of slow, with locally grown blooms that spill out into the café and private event space on the second floor. Like food, Lagrotteria contests, flowers don’t exist in a bubble: “You need to have a community that cares, that’s involved, and is invested in agricultural connection.” The flowers come from local flower farms, like Sunny Meadows and Juniper Flower Co., with plans to grow a handful of varietals in their own Clintonville backyards.
On this particular morning, the cafe bustles with the low din of conversation; the bakers prepare the day’s offerings and the florists prepare bouquets, a quiet tribute to the culture of central Ohio: simple pleasures that are handcrafted, homemade and cultivated.
For more about Flowers and Bread (3870 N High St.), visit flowersandbread.com.