26 Mar 2018

One Mile Bakery: small, local & fresh

From Nine To Noon, 11:33 am on 26 March 2018

One Mile Bakery is an unusual business; delivering home-made bread, soups and jams, by bicycle or on foot, to anyone within a mile of Elisabeth Mahoney's kitchen in Cardiff, Wales.

Mahoney started the business in 2012.  She was in her 40s, working long hours, seven days a week, as a freelance travel and food writer, theatre critic and part-time university lecturer.

As journalist, doing increasingly food-centred writing, she would come back from assignments wishing she could do something with food instead of writing about it.

“I thought, if I’m not going to do it now when will I ever do it.”

She had no dependents, and no debt, but  few savings either and didn’t want to borrow. So she came up with a business idea that was “small, niche and basically risk-free”.

She launched into her ‘one mile’ idea as a sideline. “I didn’t actually realise quite how big a one-mile radius is in a city,” she says.

After three weeks, she had a waiting list, and people wanting to send taxis to pick up their loaves.

“Everybody wanted this immediately – I wasn’t prepared for that.”

"If you want to do a large amount of bread you need a bakery. You don’t want a domestic kitchen.

"My business was very much based in my kitchen. It’s home-cooked food - some of the loaves look prettier than others."

Sometimes the deliveries are a bit late because she’s chatted to a customer. “It’s the antidote to soulless food shopping.”

Five years ago Mahoney began teaching people how to bake their own bread and now she’s got someone to take over her Cardiff business while she trains others to One Mile Bakery franchises across the UK.

Mahoney’s Cheese and Onion Loaf is on RNZ’s Recipes page.