St. Louis Bakery That Is a Bridge Out of Homelessness Needs Your Help – Riverfront Times

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Bridge Bread needs your help. - FLICKR/ BENEDIKTV

A local bakery has literally made it its mission to support the homeless in St. Louis — and now, amid social distancing due to COVID-19, the owners need your help to stay afloat.

Husband and wife Fred and Sharon Domke founded Bridge Bread (2604 Cherokee Street, 314-296-3077) back in 2011 with a singular mission: to help people transition out of homelessness by providing them with employment and the skills needed to support themselves working in the restaurant industry.

For the past nine years, that’s exactly what the nonprofit bakery has done. Last week, however, as many of the restaurants and companies that buy the bakery’s bread started to reevaluate business in the wake of COVID-19, Bridge saw its sales slashed by half.

“We have lost half our revenue for next week and it looks to get worse before it gets better,” the bakery shared in a Facebook post last week. “We need to raise money to keep our bakers employed and housed. Please help us keep the bakers working.”

Bridge Bread outlined its estimates for future lost business and wages in a post on its website, with an average cost for monthly wages and payroll taxes of $8,200 in 2019. Assuming that the bakery continues to face lost business for the next two months followed by a slow recovery period, Domke estimates that Bridge will need $20,000 to stay open. As of this writing, the Facebook post requesting donations has earned $3,598.

“Our bakers take pride in earning their wages and we will, as much as possible within safe practices, use this time in a way that provides meaningful work, which includes continuing to make bread for local pantries,” Domke said in the statement. “We also intend to do deferred maintenance at the bakery, invest time in training, take this as an opportunity to fine-tune our baking skills and explore new products. We may even have the opportunity to start up a donut line with soon-to-be donated equipment.”

For those unfamiliar with Bridge Bread, the business started out in a commercial kitchen in 2011 and has since grown to include a retail store on Cherokee Street. When the Riverfront Times shared plans for the retail shop in 2015, Domke said that all five of Bridge Bread’s then-formerly homeless workers had transitioned to housing.

Follow Liz Miller on Twitter at @lizzaymillah. We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected]

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