Photo by Adiba Khan

Toast Ballard: artisan toast in Seattle

by Adiba Khan

In the tiniest kitchen he has ever worked in, Frank Travino cuts up inch-thick bread from a local bakery and tops it off with house-made date jam and goat cheese.

It's no surprise that date toast is one of Toast Ballard's (5615 24th Ave N.W.) most popular toasts: the sweet date jam and tangy goat cheese come together in sassy harmony, and taste like they were made to be eaten with a cup of peach blossom tea.

Travino and Ashley Bucenec always wanted to start a business together, but never planned on being in the business of artisan toast. Bucenec bought the cafe formerly known as Aster Coffee Lounge, and after several months, they decided it was time to spruce things up.

The idea was simple: toast is small, people like toast, and they like quality ingredients.

"We actually had no idea that artisan toast was a thing, like down in San Francisco, when we were making these changes," said Travino, referring to the menu changes and name change in Sept. 2013.

In recent years, frozen yogurt and cupcakes have been a trendy food item. Artisan toast may be the next culinary treat to captivate Americans.

“Tip of the hipster spear,” explained one San Francisco coffee shop owner in Pacific Standard Magazine.

Artisan toast is receiving attention in the media for not only being uncommon, but also because of its price. The luxury of being able to sell and buy what some argue to be expensive toast could ultimately hurt small businesses, explains J. O’Dell of VentureBeat.

Toast Ballard is a small business that sells toast for $3. While some may find this price unreasonable, Travino notes the value of locally sourced foods, and the option of gluten-free bread.

“It’s healthy and you know where the food is coming from,” said Travino.

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