Root Baking Co., the Ponce City Market bakery founded by former James Beard Award semifinalist Chris Wilkins, is closing after service on Sunday. However, the closure is not due to lack of success in business; instead, Wilkins says it’s a personal choice.
“This isn’t a closure by necessity. It’s a closure by will,” he explains. “We opened the bakery with a project in mind—to understand the South through heirloom grains. Seven years went by, and I did what I wanted to do. It felt like the natural end.”
“I had a point of view on what bread in the South should look like: heirloom grains grown nearby with free-mill flour, naturally leavened. When we started Root, that was not a common thing. Now it is the way a lot of bakeries do business, and it’s awesome.”
The other reason Wilkins decided to close Root is the taxing nature of the business. At one point, Root had up to 30 wholesale accounts.
“All my family is in New York. I would like to see them. It’s been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve taken a vacation,” he says. “I’m going to take some space. I’m going to look for a project that is compelling and moves me.”
Wilkins says those who seek to replace the hole left by Root’s closure should look to Little Tart Bakeshop, Evergreen Butcher & Baker, Osono Bread at the Grant Park Farmers Market, and baker Sarah Dodge.
“They are sourcing incredibly responsibly and making great breads and pastries,” he says.
Meanwhile, Wilkins’s other business, Pizza Jeans, will continue to operate daily on the second floor of Ponce City Market. Additional Pizza Jeans news is forthcoming, he says.
Wilkins also says he’s no longer involved in Mount Royal and Spaceman, the Montreal-style steakhouse and rooftop bar he opened with Hugh Acheson in Buckhead. “Hugh is a very good friend of mine. I just helped him out when he needed it,” he says. Hugh and Sam Herndon are running that project. I rolled off in February. That was the plan from the beginning.”