Count Heather Hardcastle among those who did not waver in the face of difficult news. Diagnosed with gluten intolerance in 2000, Hardcastle, then a partner with her husband Rick Perko in the landscape design and construction firm Breaking Ground Landscape Designs they ran for 15 years, did not simply eliminate her favorite foods that included gluten. She made a massive career change instead, entering the pastry program at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena and learning how to cook all of the pastries and dishes she loved gluten-free from scratch.
“I went on this whole culinary journey – it really wasn’t a thing yet,” Hardcastle says.
In early 2013, after a few years of selling their popular granola at farmer’s markets in Marin, Hardcastle and Perko realized the fruits of that transformation, opening Flour Craft Bakery, one of the first gluten-free bakeries in Marin, to much acclaim. Hardcastle says the business has grown every year since.
“We were pleasantly surprised right out of the gate,” she says. “There was clearly a real need – people were really excited.”
“We’re thrilled to be taking this leap,” Hardcastle says, noting that she and Perko began considering a second location last fall. “We decided on the Lumber Yard because we really see where (MVLY owners) Jan and Matt (Mathews) are going with this. The aesthetics of the space are great, and I really like the vision they have for this as a community center with really high quality businesses.”
“It’s the right thing at the right time for this community,” she adds.
The Mathews family purchased the historic landmark property in 2012 from the Cerri family, which had owned and maintained it as a lumber yard and True Value hardware store for the previous 14 years. The property was built by lumber magnate Robert Dollar in 1892 as Dollar Lumber Company.
In July 2016, the City Council approved their proposal to redevelop the iconic property into a multi-use space that seeks to be a community hub. They previously renovated the buildings that contain the existing Guideboat, Ambatalia and Bloomingayles retail shops, and are in the midst of overhauling the others on the 42,500-square-foot site. The approved project calls for a small cafe/restaurant, as well as some retail, offices and an artist-in-residence space, in addition to what’s there now.
Hardcastle and Perko, who will be moving into the standalone building in the center of the MVLY property, connected with the Mathews family through Equator Coffees firebrand Helen Russell. Equator has been Flour Craft’s coffee provider in recent years, and will be at the second location as well.
Hardcastle says the new location will “be a more fully realized vision of what Flour Craft can be. I hope to continue with the things that people have loved so far – freshly baked bread, high quality pastries. And we hope to bring in more made to order items like fresh sandwiches and salads.”
“We’re very much looking forward to this,” Hardcastle says.