Local Artisan Bakers Are on the Rise – Meet Shawn Bergin

Interview with Shawn Bergin, baker and owner of Bakery Four
Photo Courtesy of Bakery Four

Warning! If you’re still working on your summer body and have committed to a summer of saying, “no” to carbs – continue to read at your own risk as we are sure that the more you learn about Bakery Four (if you’re not already familiar) will definitely have you changing your mind, grabbing your keys and driving down to Tennyson Street to order a few yummy pastries and breads for your next indulgence – guilt-free.

Photo courtesy of Will Blunt

There’s something about the smell of fresh baked bread that evokes feelings of comfort and happiness. One bite of a warm, buttery, perfectly frosted cinnamon roll or the crisp sound when biting into a perfectly flaked chocolate croissant can make one do a happy dance. While you can visit your local coffee chain to pick up a tasty treat any day of the week, on your way to work or while catching up with a friend over a cup of coffee – the delicious offerings from local bakeries hit different and what better place than at Bakery Four.

According to the Artisan Bakery Market Global Industry Analysis and Forecast, the artisan bakery industry is on the rise and expected to grow even more by 2030 and we can see why. With consumers seeking dining options that allow for community dining (What’s Hot 2024 Culinary Forecast), artisan bakeries invite you in with its warm buttery presence. Not only do they offer pastries, bread and other baked goods crafted using natural and locally sourced ingredients, but those with relaxed, inviting, and intimate settings attract regulars from the neighborhood as well as those that happen upon them either through a meetup suggestion or when visiting other businesses in the area.

Recently, after visiting Bakery Four, 303 Magazine had the opportunity to learn first hand why this industry is growing and why artisan bakers are on the rise in terms of choice by consumers when it comes to flavor and quality. Additionally, we had the privilege of being able to ask the owner of Bakery Four, Shawn Bergin, a few questions to share and spread awareness of this local bakery located in the historical Tennyson Street and Berkeley neighborhood.

Photo courtesy of Will Blunt

303: We had a chance to visit Bakery Four and loved the chill and welcoming vibe. We saw families getting some breakfast on their way to and from the park across the street, friends meeting for coffee and people coming in to pick up some bread for whatever they had going on that day. The atmosphere was pleasant, and the staff interacted well with everyone. How important was the location and overall atmosphere to the vision you saw for Bakery Four after starting as a cottage bakery in the basement of your home?

Shawn Bergin: Honestly, we had that same atmosphere of people coming together during Covid when they would wait in line at the bakery on 32nd ave. It was a way for people to stay distant while also interacting and seeing/meeting people which was incredibly difficult at the time – it was almost like an event each weekend. Breakfast has always been a communal thing for most people, and having our customers used to that atmosphere in a larger space with a park across the street just fit perfectly with our concept.

303: In addition to baking, you also make pasta. What type of pasta can people expect to find?  Will they be available at both Bakery Four and Rich Spirit Bagels?

Shawn Bergin: The pasta will only be available at the bakery unless we expand upon that concept in the future and find it its own home. We’re currently working on bringing some pastry offerings to the bagel shop like cookies, coffee cake, and the like. 

Photo courtesy of Bakery Four on Instagram

303: We tried a few of the options offered at Bakery Four, and we have to say all of them were delicious. After having the pop tart, there’s no way we can go back to store-bought, and the maple morning bun was our favorite. Admittedly, while we didn’t get any because we were trying to get summer ready, we were eyeing the bread purchased by one customer. We’re unsure of the name, but the customer said it had olives and herbs on it and was intricately shaped like a giant pretzel – a strongly encouraged recommendation. With the various types of pastry and bread options available, how did you decide on the type of baked goods Bakery Four would offer? How does it make Bakery Four stand out? 

Shawn Bergin: Originally I always envisioned having a small amount of products and just doing them really really well. It turned out the base of each product could stay the same, but by manipulating the shapes, fillings, and flavors we can create so many different products out of the same base dough. That has allowed us to keep expanding upon our core items. My goal has always been to do things that people are familiar with but to make them with the most incredible ingredients we can find from across the world, so we rotate in and out things using that core principle, but also take into account seasonality of ingredients and what customers are asking us to bring back into rotation. The Fougasse is what you’re referencing, which is a very classic French bread with olives that is supposed to resemble a head of wheat.

303: We understand that you are a self-taught chef/baker who once had a career in marketing. What inspired you to become an artisan baker, and what advice would you give someone with a passion for other culinary artisans thinking about taking that leap? 

Photo courtesy of Will Blunt

Shawn Bergin: I always had a love of cooking and had a background in dough and fermentation from working in pizza shops in my teens, so it always felt like I had a knack for it. My advice for anyone would be to follow your heart while you can, because you can always fall back on a career that you had previously if it doesn’t work out. It’s better to try something and fail than to wish you had tried it when you had the chance 20 years down the road. Some would say that’s easy for me to say now, but that’s always the mindset I had and it’s allowed me to take risks that seemed insane to some people.

303: Shawn, this has been great and we appreciate you taking the time to share a little about yourself and Bakery Four with us. Final question for you: we are headed into peak wedding season. Some couples are traditional, and some like being outside the box. Morning ceremonies tend to be a little more budget-friendly. You have a couple that has chosen to do a breakfast bar for their guests that includes a pastry table and bread table. What would you curate for their special day?

Shawn Bergin: We would love to do events like that, and always have the ability to help folks with their special day. We could do a great spread of large sliced country loaves with spreads and butters on the side, or leaning more sweet we can do mini versions of any of our pastries that are great for small finger foods.

Photo courtesy of Will Blunt

We would like to thank Shawn Bergin as well as the friendly staff at Bakery Four. If you are looking for fine, handcrafted baked goods, consider taking a ride out to Tennyson Street and grabbing a coffee (we tried and enjoyed the Mocha) and pastry with a friend, as meeting spot for a coffee date or morning adventure with the kiddos.

Bakery Four is located at 4150 Tennyson St., Denver and is open Wednesday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. with an updated menu every Wednesday morning. Rich Spirit Bagels is located at 10081 W 26th Ave., Westminster and is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday to Sunday. Place pre-orders every Sunday for the following week via its website.

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