From the mines to pies: Before opening in Cressy, Tasmania in 2016, Rustic Bakehouse owners Katie and Jarrod Lamprey were about as far from this small town bakery lifestyle as possible.
Katie Lamprey says that when she first saw what would become their new home and business, it was love at first sight. Although her husband Jarrod was from Tasmania originally, they were living in Victoria at the time near Katie’s family, and Jarrod, a baker/pastry chef by trade was working a fly-in fly-out role in the mines in Western Australia.
Despite both having hospitality backgrounds (Katie was in hospitality management previously), they jumped on board the mining boom as it was starting and worked for 10 years in WA, with Katie driving trucks and Jarrod on the drills.
“We both totally went out of field,” Katie says.
“We were really lucky; we walked in pretty much just on the cusp of the mining boom. I was only driving trucks for about a year before I was in the management side. It’s funny how you’re always pulled to what you were born to do, no matter what industry you go into.”
However, the baking industry was always calling them back. In fact, the couple met at a Victorian bakery in 2000 – the Portarlington Bakehouse – and Katie says she was always Googling bakeries, waiting for the right opportunity to come up.
“I always had that pull to go back; and it was just a matter of getting money I guess,” she says.
“It’s always good to have a dream, but you’ve got to get a bit of money behind you and I quite literally used to Google – for 10 years I reckon – ‘woodfired bakeries’, just trying to find our piece of paradise.
“I was actually on maternity leave and we were in Victoria, back with my family and my husband was at that stage flying in and flying out, and I happened to find this place, and I connected the dots. Obviously we had family in Tasmania – his family – and I was like ‘I think we should go and check it out, and yeah, it was love at first sight.
“We put in an offer that day. We didn’t even really know the town or anything. I just saw the (Scotch) oven, and that was what our pull was. We knew the history and had worked with them before; we knew how special they were and how unique and how there’re not a lot of them going around.”
Jarrod has family in Latrobe (about an hour from Cressy) so the location was ideal, even though Katie says she’d sworn she would never move back to Tasmania after living there for some years previously.
“As soon as you’ve got children your perspective on everything just changes, she says of the change of heart.
“I think now how grateful I am now to be in this space and where we are – we’re so lucky to be surrounded by amazing people. The school and everything around us is just really nice. It’s a really good lifestyle. We’re very lucky.”
Cressy is surrounded by farms, both big and small, and Katie says it’s a true small town lifestyle.
“Our actual town support is amazing. We’re so lucky,” she says.
“We’re in a town where everyone knows each other, everyone looks after each other, and you know who your neighbours are. If something’s going on, questions will be asked and you just feel very safe.”
Moving interstate and opening a new business wasn’t easy, especially with a baby and a pre-schooler along for the ride, but Katie and Jarrod are glad they made the jump.
“Miley was actually 10 months old when we opened, so that was very hectic,” Katie says.
“A very tough couple of years, but what do they say? You’ve got to make it over the two-year hurdle – how true that is!
“I see young mums now and I think you actually forgot how tricky it is until you look back and go, ‘that was so hard.’
“We both went from very stable, well-paying jobs, to basically following a dream, which as you can appreciate when you’ve got young kids is a massive risk, but I think we just try not to focus on the risk and just focus on the lifestyle. Whenever we realised that we were a bit stretched, we always stopped and pulled it back and made it about us and about our lifestyle. I think that’s really important.”
With just a small space to work with, they focus on producing quality products – pies, croissants, muffins and danishes – which they aim to sell out so they don’t have anything left over at the end of the day.
“What we actually produce in the space that we have is pretty amazing, Katie says.
“We’ve got an electric oven in the shed, but nowhere to put it. Everything’s baked in our wood oven.”
Their vanilla slice is a big drawcard and sees people travelling to Cressy from all over Tasmania, but Katie says they don’t enter it in the Vanilla Slice Triumph competitions.
“My husband – if you were to meet him you’d totally understand why – he’s a bit of the opinion ‘I don’t need a trophy to tell me I’ve got a good vanilla slice,’” she laughs.
The Lampreys got lucky during the coronavirus pandemic too. Before Christmas, they had installed a coffee window in the bakery, which allowed them to remain open while being able to keep people out of the shop.
“We’d gone away over Christmas, and we didn’t want the staff to be under the pump with too many people in here without us here for support,” Katie explains.
“So we shut the shop and just had the coffee window open and kept the community caffeinated and with bread and treats. We tried to go for balance. So when it all really started to go down and everyone was just really unsure of which way it was going to go, we actually closed our shop but kept the coffee window open. So we were really lucky; we were able to keep just ticking over as best as we could in that stage.
“I really continued to focus on Facebook and Instagram, because I knew everyone would be at home just screaming to get back out and when they could, they would. And that has paid dividends now, because now that everyone can get out and about, we’ve got people travelling from everywhere in Tasmania. For us to have people travelling from Launceston, which is half an hour away, it’s a massive thing.
“They’re choosing to drive to us; it’s so special.
“When the restrictions started to ease and we felt comfortable and our staff were comfortable, we opened the door again and continued with the space. We’re just making small steps. We’ve just recently reopened our dining room.
“It’s all still take-away, but people are able to come and sit down and get out of the rain or the cold. Tassie!”
When it comes to future plans, Katie says she has to try not to get ahead of herself with plans.
“I’ve always got expansion in mind, but they I think ‘wait a minute, who’s going to be doing all of this? Who’s going to be doing the work?’” she laughs.
They purchased a coffee van in December, which is waiting in the wings. Katie says the plan is to use it to service the farms surrounding the town. Additionally, Katie has just put in an application to the council to expand their outdoor dining area into the front yard of their home, which is next door to the bakery.
“I’ve got in the works at the moment to basically cut a fence across the front, about four metres in, to open up more dining space outside,” she says.
“Obviously that will help with if people don’t want to come in, and just for somewhere for people to sit. That will come out of COVID, because we had the dining room closed for such a long time.
“Just trying to think outside the space a little bit and accommodate where we might be going.
“That’s kind of immediate, and then we’ve got a beautiful barn out the back that I’d love to renovate – lots going on!”