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Goodbye, Pressed Flour: Local bakery closure to be permanent

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Oct 16, 2020

Pressed Flour was closed this summer, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Six years ago, pastry chef Alisha Hanlin began searching for a local storefront to house her burgeoning bakery business, Pressed Flour. Up to that point, she had been operating her bakery out of various commercial kitchens that she rented. Along with selling her baked goods to local restaurants and retail locations, she also performed small-scale catering and sold her baked goods at local farm markets.

In Feb. 2015, Hanlin opened the doors to her new bakery storefront, at 111 West German Street. Over the next five years of operation, Hanlin primarily operated the bakery on weekends, while continuing to offer her small-scale catering services. And, until the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, the popularity of her business indicated that Pressed Flour was here to stay.

On July 29, Hanlin officially announced the closure of her business. Due to the small interior of her business, she had spent the last few months attempting to operate the bakery with a pick-up service format, to ensure she was operating within COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. But that format proved to be less popular with customers than shopping in the bakery had been. That fact, combined with the lack of summer events drawing visitors to downtown Shepherdstown, resulted in a dramatic decrease in sales.

“I’ve spent the past five years doing my best to make special events and weekend mornings a little bit more special, with our cakes, pastries and sandwiches. I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent providing for everyone, and I hope I’ve helped to cultivate some meaningful culinary memories for the folks who love what we make here,” Hanlin said in her closure announcement. “I’ll not bore you with a longwinded virtual soliloquy about personal trials and tribulations, the impact of a global pandemic and local economic downturn, but ‘this little bakery that could’ has reached its final destination.”

Over the past couple of months, Hanlin has gradually emptied out her business space, allowing herself to relax after experiencing the stress of having to choose between either closing her business or going into debt.

“For right now, I’m just kind of decompressing. I made this big decision and for now I don’t have to make another big decision,” Hanlin said, mentioning that, since the closure of her business, she has taken a break from the kitchen.

For the foreseeable future, until the restaurant industry heals from pandemic losses and starts hiring again, Hanlin said she will likely continue earning an income through doing odd jobs around town.

“I do want to share food with people in some capacity, even if I’m not making it. It’s something I’ve always done,” Hanlin said, mentioning she hopes to create a website for herself, on which she will publish the “million-and-a-half” recipes she has developed over her years as a chef.