There’s a new cure for a sweet tooth Downtown with the grand opening Monday of the artisan bakery at The Bank BBQ & Bakery across from EverBank Center on Forsyth Street.
When restaurateurs Tom Thornton and his wife, Rocio, opened the barbecue side of the business in August, they did it with veteran pitmaster Richard Burns in the kitchen, who already had logged 27 years at The Pig Bar-B-Q on Lem Turner Road.
The bakery staff also has decades of combined experience, including a 30-year veteran baker who worked for Publix Super Markets and another who worked in the kitchen at Edgewood Bakery for three years before it closed this year.
The third member of the bakery staff has a successful custom cake business. Thornton said he met her at an auction and started talking after they each bid on a mixer. Then he offered her a job.
“I don’t know anything about making barbecue or baking, so I’ve hired people who do,” said Thornton.
The display cases are filled with decorated cakes and a variety of pies along with cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, Danish pastries, eclairs, cookies, muffins, tarts and cannoli.
There will be a tray of mini cupcakes at the front door every day this week for lunch patrons to sample.
The Bank is serving a free pancake-and-bacon breakfast this week starting at 7:30 a.m.
With three months under his belt on the barbecue side of the business, Thornton is putting some new items on the menu to go along with the ribs, pulled pork, chicken and brisket.
He said the “pork wing” has been a big hit. It’s a pork shank trimmed to look like a chicken leg and then slowly smoked over hickory and pecan wood.
“I tell people if you like pork and you don’t like the pork wing, I’ll buy it for you,” Thornton said.
And he’s adding a fish–and-chips lunch special every Friday beginning Dec. 16.
The Bank has developed quite a following among people who work Downtown, particularly employees in the Duval County Courthouse.
“They tell me they can sometimes smell our barbecue in their building,” said Thornton.
The third and final phase of The Bank is in the design stages.
Thornton is renovating the second floor of the building for a private dining and catering room that should be open in a few months.
He said he is glad his business plan was to open the different elements of the operation over several months.
That allowed the barbecue restaurant to establish itself before the bakery opened.
“Everybody’s getting in the groove,” Thornton said. “I’m really happy I didn’t try to open both at the same time.”