Lawlor’s the Bakers has been saved and brought by jeweller David Rodger Sharp and his business partner Marc Maslin who has worked in catering for 40+ years.
They have taken on the lease of the bakery in Empstead Works and brought all the equipment and vans from former owners Mike Lawlor and Anne Baker who decided to close the business and retire in January due to the impact of Covid-19 on the business. They will also be opening a new retail shop at 31 Duke Street (former The Sole Man shop).
Anne and Mike said, “We are all delighted that David has decided to take over the bakery. He has a terrific lot of enthusiasm for it which will be so good for the customers. We wish him every success and hope that he finds it as interesting and fulfilling as we have. It has been a fantastic life for us and we are very sad to leave it after all these years. We shall give David all the support that we can for his lift off.”
On taking over the business David said, “It was about saving a business which had so much heritage. We didn’t want to see a business that is 73 years old vanish from the high street which had clearly captured the hearts and minds of people in Henley. Two or three generations of families have come to Lawlor’s for their bread. Because we knew we were going to take on the Duke Street store we knew we could put the brand back on the forefront of the high street. I love the high street. It needs a few good people to give things a go. We are incredibly lucky to have so many small independents and the recent survey saying that Henley is the 2nd best in 1,000 high streets is a reflection on that. We should be incredibly proud and it’s thanks to people in Henley who support us which is key.”
David and Marc have recruited Head Baker, Tona Erreguin who recently moved from Mexico where she worked in bakeries and top restaurants for 12 years. She trained at the Gato Dumas – College of Gastronomy there. Tona said, “My wife and I had just found a house in Henley and this great opportunity popped up. I am looking forward to baking some true artisan breads including sour dough which is my favourite.” David and Marc have recruited 6 new staff and are looking for another 3 employees for the business.
Lawlor’s will offer many of the former delicious products including the renown lardy cake made to the Lawlor’s original recipe plus some new exciting ones including croughnuts (cross between a croissant and a doughnut) which are popular in America. David commented, “We want to give people really high quality food but at an affordable price. Fresh bread from some other local outlets is so expensive. Some aren’t even baking it. In last 10-20 years bread making has gone all technical using equipment which takes the love and taste out of bread so by going back to old ways by doing everything by hand you get a much better product.“
Marc’s wife has started to contact all the old Lawlor’s commercial customers and the reaction has been really positive about the takeover. Most of customers are closed due to lockdown but are looking forward to being supplied again when they reopen.
The new retail shop on Duke Street will also sell sushi and they hope to open on Saturday 6 March. David explained, “This was the original idea for the shop and we have been amazed with the feedback. Everyone seems to want sushi as no one else is doing it. We will start with a limited menu and see what the demand is. It will be delivered daily freshly made from a supplier in Feltham. We’ll see what the take up is and then change the offering to meet the demand.”
With the two sites, Lawlor’s is looking forward to baking and selling the same products that everyone loves plus some exciting new ones. David added, “If you make bread well, and you get a good reputation for it, people will come to you.”
Keep up-to-date with the latest from Lawlor’s on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lawlorsthebakers/ . Website coming soon.