It didn’t take Shelby Nickerson long to figure out how CRUST, a Fenton-based artisan bakery, values the people, process and the principled techniques behind its products after she joined the locally owned business in 2014.
“The first thing they said to me was to make sure that our guests are taken care of and given a first-class experience from the moment they enter the door or call us on the phone,” said Nickerson, who now manages the bakery’s retail store and leads front-of-house restaurant staff.
“I could see it in everything that was happening here. There were no shortcuts, from the way the baked goods were crafted and prepared to the family atmosphere among the staff and how it extended to the community.”
And it’s that attention to detail and respect for others that drives CRUST staff every day, particularly as the holiday season starts and families across Michigan begin their annual traditions that reflect the same values as CRUST.
“It’s about food and doing things that bring us together,” Nickerson said. “And then to think that through our breads, our pies, our pastries and our Thanksgiving specials, we’re being invited into these homes and into their lives. It’s really important to us.”
CRUST, which opened in 2012 and has expanded to occupy nearly a full city block in Fenton, prides itself on using all-natural ingredients and eschewing preservatives. Its wide range of baked goods include pies, pastries, muffins, cookies, scones and made-to-order event cakes. The restaurant features handcrafted sandwiches, traditional Italian pizzas, salads and soups.
The bakery’s in-store pickup, delivery and wholesale retail operations have expanded CRUST’s reach to other parts of Michigan and the country. The ability to order online has been appreciated, said Amanda Lobaina, CRUST’s office manager.
“This is not your typical bread, pie or pastry, and people recognize that,” Lobaina said. “We feel that with everything going on this year with the pandemic and more, that people are going to want to do something special for themselves, for their friends or for their co-workers.
“We’re happy to be a part of those celebrations, to bring some joy to others and maybe make life a little easier.”
Lobaina noted that CRUST’s gift collections are popular choices throughout the year, but the care packages are of special significance around the holidays.
The boxes, which are shipped free of charge, can be chosen based on the recipient’s tastes or the time of the day – maybe an office breakfast or a mid-day pick-me-up treat. There are bread offerings for dinners or desserts to share as you swap stories or relax after a long day.
She’s seen an uptick in orders as a general show of appreciation in workplaces, social clubs and among friends. There has also been an influx in corporate gifts, she said.
Among the most-ordered items are:
- A best bakery box with cookies, brownies, bread and more.
- A breakfast box filled with scones, bread and jam.
- The cutie pie club that sends seasonal fruit pies every month.
- A cookie assortment box that will bring a smile to young and old.
- Cinnamon roll boxes that can be a morning lift or a day-of or day-after holiday breakfast.
- There’s even a puppy pack filled with handcrafted dog treats.
“There’s something for everyone, and people can take advantage of how we’ve crafted packages for their preferences to satisfy an individual gift or a group.” Lobaina said. “We always hear how much people love giving and getting baked goods.”
Other holiday specials include a German-style Stollen that has rum-soaked raisins and cranberries, real butter, whole and slivered almonds, crystallized ginger, candied citrus peel, nutmeg, and coarse-ground black pepper.
Lobaina described how the loaf is shaped by hand with an interior rope of marzipan and then after baking is dipped in melted sweet-cream butter, rolled in granulated sugar and finished with a drift of confectioners’ sugar.
Another holiday favorite is a traditional Italian-style Panettone that can be an after-dinner dessert, a sweet mid-day snack or the base for an amazing French Toast breakfast. Bakers craft the loaf with vanilla-soaked dark raisins, candied citrus peel, the zest of oranges and lemons and then finish the bread with a crown of coarse pearl sugar.
Lobaina and Nickerson recommended placing orders in advance to ensure availability for holiday gatherings.
“If your heart is set on something, we don’t want anyone to risk coming in and not being able to get it,” Nickerson said. “We want these homemade treats to be a part of your at-home holiday.”
Crust is also offering its first-ever complete Thanksgiving dinner that can be picked up and reheated at home. Orders can be placed until Nov. 21.
The dinner feeds four and includes:
- Bourbon maple glazed turkey breast with made from scratch gravy.
- Boursin and parmesan mashed potatoes.
- Green bean casserole: fresh green beans topped with house made mushroom cream sauce and topped with fried onions.
- Candied yams topped with House made marshmallows.
- Sage and Apple stuffing made with crust bread, celery, onions and granny smith apples.
- Cranberry orange preserves.
- Challah pull apart rolls.
- Sea Salt butter.
“We are excited to try something new and see how our guests respond,” Lobaina said. “That’s part of how we try to adapt to what our community wants.”
Check out the video below for a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the Crust bakers at work: