Mike Runsvold stood at a nearly empty table as the bell rang, signalling the end of a busy day at the Boise Farmers Market. Throughout the morning, his breads had gradually disappeared one by one, as customers came by to snag a slice of sourdough or a bite of boule.
"Everything that I make, I try to make like it would be an exceptional version of its type of bread," Runsvold said.
Using experience garnered over years working for Zeppole and Gaston's Bakery in the basement beneath Le Cafe de Paris, Runsvold decided to branch out and open his own bakery, Acme Bakeshop, using personal recipes he has handcrafted through years of trial and error.
"Every day, you have a chance to troubleshoot minor tweaks and that's what keeps this interesting," Runsvold said.
But Acme needed a commercial-sized oven to get off the ground, and Runsvold had been eyeing a few for sale on eBay.
"I was watching ovens go up for bid for months and finally found one for a good price," Runsvold said. "They can run up to $50,000, and I was able to get mine nearly brand new for $10,000."
With an oven and a recently acquired workspace in Garden City, Runsvold is now able to produce enough bread to fulfill obligations with vendors like 10 Barrel Brewing Co., and to stock a weekly booth at the farmers market.
"It's just a production space, not fit for customers; it's just too ugly" Runsvold joked. "But it's a great place to work out of and it's close to downtown."
Runsvold's breads are made with local and semi-local flours and ingredients.
"You can't find bread flour that's produced or milled locally, but the one I use is in Lehi, Utah, not very far away," Runsvold said.
In addition to using unbleached white flour from Lehi Roller Mills (where Footloose was filmed), Runsvold also sources from Shepherd's Grain. He procures other flours, including whole wheat and rye, from Caldwell and Donnelly, where they are grown and milled on the spot.
Acme breads quickly caught the eye of 10 Barrel's chef Paul Faucher, who wanted local breads to complement the brewpub's menu.
"When we were opening this place up, I asked Mike if he could do something special for us," Faucher said. "We decided to incorporate our beer wort into our buns."
Runsvold uses the wort to add sweetness and flavor to the buns. So far, Faucher has been impressed with the quality of Acme's breads.
"The customers really like how unique our bun is," Faucher said. "We sell a hundred a week--well a couple hundred a week--and feedback has been nothing but positive."
The new Po' Bois food truck also asked Acme Bakeshop to create a special po' boy bun to complement its Southern-influenced cuisine.
"The recipe they gave for the po' boy bun is native to the New Orleans area, so I just got a list of ingredients and listened to a recipe podcast before creating my own bun," Runsvold said.
Besides two contracts with local vendors, Acme Bakeshop currently accepts orders as part of a bread share on Facebook. Twice a week, Runsvold makes extra loaves of sourdough and multigrain to provide to individual customers, a practice he is slowly phasing out.
"If someone asks for some bread, I wouldn't say, 'No,'" he said. "It's just that I am about as busy as I can be. If I took on too much, I wouldn't be able to do as good of a job."
Though business is steady for Acme Bakeshop, Runsvold doesn't plan on expanding any more until he can afford to hire additional bakers and employees.
"I'm working on my own and there's only so much I can do right now," he said. "My focus is establishing a strong identity with my products, then I will move forward from there."