After 13 years as owners of beloved local bakery, Little Bread Co., Hannah Withers and Ben Gitchel are ready to pass the torch.
The couple is set to sell the bakery next month to employee Chloe Reese and former Nomad’s Natural Plate owners, Mitchell Owen and Eric Gallemore.
Withers said she and Gitchel are ready to explore some of their other passions, travel a little bit (something that’s tough to do as a small business owner), spend some time with family, and maybe, sleep in every once in a while for a change.
She does believe, however, that the bakery she and Gitchel started in Eureka Springs and later relocated to Fayetteville will be in good hands.
“It’s very bittersweet for us,” she said. “We’ve worked very hard for 13 years, and this bakery is a personal extension of who we are, and our relationship with Fayetteville.
“But we are thrilled to see what Eric, Mitchell, and Chloe can do with a fresh perspective on a place that is such a big part of our lives.”
Reese should be a familiar face for regulars at the bakery. She has been a fixture at the counter for more than two years.
“I can walk into any place in Fayetteville and tell you how at least five people like their coffee, their name, what they like on their bagels, and whether they just got back from vacation,” Reese joked. “And I like it that way.”
Gallemore and Owen may also be familiar to downtown locals from their time as owners of popular local food truck, Nomad’s Natural Plate. The partners sold the truck to an employee earlier this summer, and were set to move outside the area to open their own restaurant when they heard about the opportunity at Little Bread Co.
The chance to be a part of the community created around the restaurant on Block Avenue, they said, was too good to pass up.
“It’s cool being a part of part of something that’s so central to Fayetteville,” Owen said. “It’s just really special here, and being a part of something like that seems way more appealing than moving. We didn’t really want to leave.”
The new owners plan to keep the core menu of the restaurant exactly the same, but are excited to add items and specials from time to time.
“I want people to know that it’s still going to be the same Little Bread that they love,” Gallemore said.
The staff, they said, will also remain intact, including longtime pastry chef Cody Ezell, who worked for years under Gitchel in the kitchen and who is returning to the company after graduating from culinary school.
Reese said she feels the pressure to live up to the high standards that Gitchel and Withers have created, but it’s a challenge that she embraces.
“We have big shoes to fill,” Reese said. “But I’ve worked here for long enough that I know what everything is supposed to look like, and how big it’s supposed to be. We’re going to try to be like Hannah as much as we can.”
The sale is set to be finalized on Aug. 1, though the new owners have been actively managing the restaurant for several weeks now.
Withers and Gitchel said other than a much needed vacation, they’re not positive what’s next for them in Fayetteville. And they’re okay with that.
“We don’t know exactly what we’re doing,” Withers said. “And that’s kind of exciting for us.”