Sunday morning in the sleepy University neighborhood began with grumbling stomachs looking for a high-carb item to satisfy their craving at a new local bakery.
Tandem Bakery and Cafe, located at 1221 Helen Ave, seeks to provide a niche for students by providing gluten-free and vegan baked goods in a casual environment one block from the mountain campus.
Started by married couple David Tyson and Beth Gherlein as a wholesale bakery, the business has grown in popularity over the past decade. The business started as an idea in their home kitchen, now distributes baked goods to stores across Montana.
The couple developed their own donut and bread recipes during a winter in Missoula in 2012 after becoming disappointed with the lack of gluten-free or vegan baked goods in town.
Gherlein worked in several bakeries and restaurants, which gave her the skills she needed.
“I’ve always loved cooking,” Gherlein said. “[Gluten free and vegan] is an exciting way to cook. Every recipe we make, we have to invent it and that makes it more difficult.
Gherlein’s dream was to own a showcase where people could gather around the baker’s delicious sweets. But with just her and her husband, she knew they would have to start small.
The two took to the streets after perfecting some recipes and began selling their wares at Clark Fork Market in downtown Missoula. They built the clientele and established the relationships necessary for business.
In 2015, they opened a production kitchen. They have developed the wholesale business and sell regularly at places like the Good Food Store and the University of Montana Food Zoo.
The bakers remained in the wholesale market for seven years due to a shortage of staff and a difficult real estate market. The pandemic set them back a few years, but after a year of remodeling the space, the couple opened Tandem Bakery and Cafe on March 6.
Located in the center of the neighborhood west of UM, Tandem easily picked up traffic.
“I live in the neighborhood and this is a great location for me because it’s within walking distance,” said client Kathi Campbell.
Campbell has seen several businesses come and go in the space where coffee is now, such as Buttercup Cafe and, most recently, Nonna’s Neighborhood Eatery. She was thrilled to see a bakery join the neighborhood after COVID-19 scared many people away.
“It was such a big dream for me, just to open a retail space,” Gherlein said. “So ongoing, my goal is for this place to continue to be successful and for us to be able to make it a real community space.”
Tandem is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends and closed on Mondays.
Donuts have been the best-selling item in the bakery since the beginning, along with their bread varieties. They also have a full espresso bar and lunch menu. The couple plan to add a hot savory menu in the coming months.