There are plenty of eateries serving up bacon-and-egg breakfasts and run-of-the-mill lunch sandwiches. But where can you get a crepe layered with grilled Leoncini ham, imported brie and carmelized Ohio-grown apples? Or roasted local-acorn-squash soup paired with smoked Idaho trout organic-greens salad?
The on State Road.
Owner Mike Bruno has assembled a staff of veteran chefs and bakers who are all admitted “food snobs” – much to the delight of foodies who have discovered the Blue Door since its debut in late July.
Nearly everything served at the Blue Door is made from scratch, right down to the pasta, sauces and jellies. The bakery offers different breads and pastries each day. There’s an emphasis on buying fresh, local, all-natural/healthy products when available.
“We buy whole turkeys and roast them ourselves to make Monte Cristo sandwiches. We buy grass-fed Ohio beef and make our own corned beef for Reuben sandwiches. Every bread, every English muffin, every pastry bowl we serve is made in-house,” Bruno said.
While the café and bakery have staples that are offered from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, it’s the daily specials that give Bruno’s staffers a chance to express their creativity and passion for food.
Fans of the Blue Door’s Facebook page are updated almost daily on what’s cooking. A recent example reads, “Well, Tim decided to venture over to the dark side again … by preparing a Creole-style eggs breakfast! First, we'll toast some sweet cornbread, then top this with some spicy Creole braised chicken. Then a poached egg, smoked hamhock hollandaise and spicy pepper jelly to top it all off. :)) I can't wait till our 4 a.m. tasting!”
The “Tim” referred to in the post is Tim Carson, who has worked at Ken Stewart’s Grille and Virtues, both in Akron, and ran the kitchen at St. Thomas Hospital. Bruno’s other full-time chefs include Valerie Miller, formerly of Bricco in Akron; Mike Smith, who worked at in Cuyahoga Falls; Bill Allen, formerly of River Grille in Cuyahoga Falls, and Lisa Shapiro, who served as pastry chef at the now-closed VegiTerranean restaurant in Akron.
Bruno himself is somewhat new to the business, having spent the first 20 years of his career as a U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer.
“Baking had been a hobby of mine for a long time. About 10 years into my career, I decided it could be more than a hobby so I started taking it more seriously and learning everything I could. About a year before retiring (from the Marines) I went to a six-month French pastry arts program,” he explained.
Bruno’s wife of 17 years, Martina, has always been supportive of his dream of opening a bakery – but neither of them knew where to begin. They turned to Martina’s mother, Annemarie Leipply, a restaurant owner for the better part of 12 years. In September 2009, Leipply gave Bruno space inside her to run a from-scratch bakery.
The business grew, and this past summer Bruno and Martina “shared our vision for a restaurant and bakery (with Leippley) and she was happy to sell (the Golden Goose) to us,” he said.
After a three-week closure for renovations, the building reopened July 21 as the Blue Door Café & Bakery. It’s a family affair, with Martina doing the books and serving as “the vision behind our décor … and food styling,” Bruno said.
On the weekends their children – Max, 15, and Antonia, 11 – greet and seat customers and help bus tables. Sometimes, Max even performs magic tricks for patrons.
Bruno said the Blue Door’s biggest challenge right now is that city residents “just don’t know about us. … During the week we rely on local traffic and we’re not that busy. On the weekend, we’re more of a destination. People come from Bath, Fairlawn, even from Cleveland to eat here.”
The Blue Door Cafe & Bakery is at 1970 State Rd. Phone 330-926-9774.