The End of Prairie Thunder Baking Company
Forgive me for not posting this sooner, it's been a busy holiday weekend. But yes, the news is true - Prairie Thunder Baking Company closed its doors for good yesterday.
Here is their announcement released on their Facebook page:
"With sadness, we are closing our doors at the end of the workday, 2:00 pm this coming Saturday, November 26th. We want to sincerely thank our customers, retail and wholesale, and all our employees over the past 8-1/2 years."
So what happened?
I've not been able to talk yet with John McBryde, who opened this old-school bakery at Plaza Court, 1114 Classen Drive, in 2008. But keep in mind, this business venture did not start out as planned. McBryde was a geologist who chased the American dream of starting and owning his business. But 2008 was not an ideal time to start what was originally envisioned as a 24/7 bakery. The national economy was tanking, bank lending was frozen and an anticipated rush to add more downtown housing was delayed by a few years.
McBryde competed for commercial contracts with local restaurants. In my visits with McBryde, it was clear retaining this business in a restaurant industry that is growing in size but not customers was forcing a cutting of costs. Some customers fell off, not due to the quality of McBryde's great breads, but rather in a race to cut costs.
The other challenge McBryde faced was the hiring, training and retention of employees he trained. It's a tricky proposition. It was a lot of work. And during our more recent visits, I could tell John was getting worn down. I'd love to see someone step in, buy an interest and keep the Prairie Thunder Baking Company alive. This is a loss not just for Midtown, but for all of Oklahoma City.