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What: Artisan breads

Company: Bluff View Bakery

Address: 217 Spring St.

Website: www.bluffviewartdistrict.com

Telephone: 265-5033, ext. 490

Owners: Tony and Mary Portera

What's special: "I think it begins with the beginning of the process, which is the levain we have down there, the starter that feeds all the dough," said Michael Vasta, director of operations. "That, plus the skill of our head baker, Alou Niangadu, makes great bread."

The origin story: Bluff View Bakery started as a way to offer something special in Bluff View's restaurants - the Back Inn Cafe, Tony's and Rembrandt's. "Having an artisan product like that at the time didn't exist in Chattanooga," Vasta said. "I could understand a baguette because I'd seen one before, but (artisan breads) was stuff you saw in magazines, not in real life, not in the South."

How long does a loaf take to make? Three to four hours. Every day, the bakery uses 800 to 1,200 pounds of dough.

Other places it's sold: Whole Foods Market and area Bi-Lo stores. Bread is also delivered wholesale to restaurants in Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tenn.

How long have they been making bread? Bluff View Bakery was founded in 1993.

Plans: Bluff View would like to expand its wholesale business and retail sales at the bakery. Because the facility is not operating at capacity, any future production increases could be accommodated in the existing space, Vasta said.

Lessons of the trade: "Understanding the customers is always the key in this business," Vasta said. "We've learned that freshness is important to our customers. They want to get it as soon as it comes out of the oven." Vasta also said being aware of seasonal tastes has been key to adjusting the bakery's offerings to meet customer demand.

- Compiled by staff writer Casey Phillips

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