By Peter Edgar
Across from the corner of Hunter Street and South Florida Avenue, between Concord Coffee and the Pink Piano, there is a small house overshadowed by a large live oak tree. This is the residence of the “SoFLo Gallery and Marketplace,” a conglomerate of several services from art and clothing to spa treatments and, most relevant to my personal interests, bread. During thanksgiving break, I set off from my grandmother’s house to check it out.
Pulling into the parking lot, there is a sign outlining the different services (pictured). I was most interested in and excited about Dublin Bread. I walked up to the cottage via a small paved sidewalk, passing two mailboxes marked with a last name, opened the forest green front door and entered the building. Christmas music was playing in an Oriental style, as if the sitar were the only instrument in the room when someone, on a whim, decided to record a holiday album. The marketplace is set up as a hallway with open rooms to the left and right. Most of the rooms housed jewelry and clothing items like dresses and suits. On one’s immediate right upon entering through the street-facing door is the spa waiting room.
After peering in through a couple doorframes (and noticing a reproduction of an 1840 map of Florida identical to one in the McKay Archives Center at FSC), I became aware of voices down the hall. Pen and pad in hand, I walked further into a large foyer, where three women stood chatting, and, waiting for a pause in the conversation, asked if this is where Dublin Bread was located.
“Dublin Bread is closed,” a woman with shoulder-length wiry hair told me. After expressing my disappointment, the other two women indicated that they had stopped by for the same reason I had—to try the bread. The bakery was known for its Irish Brown Bread, a loaf which, according to one reviewer, is “more dense than a first boyfriend — but, unlike him, totally worth your time [sic]” (Dave Steele). The bakery’s Facebook page was once a means of communication for what they were selling; they offered scones, oatmeal bars, and shortbread cookies. It is still available online, with no indication of the store’s closing—one reason why I was so blindsided by the news.
A possible explanation for Dublin Bread’s closing could be the arrival of competition—in the form of Born and Bread Bakehouse—to Dixieland. The company has been selling in the Saturday farmer’s market downtown since March of last year, but their official location (only a block and a half away from Dublin Bread) opened its doors last December. Born and Bread is only open on Saturdays, but by opening hour at 8 a.m., there’s a queue lining the block outside.
Whatever the cause, though, I am disappointed to be unable to savor the bread that SoFlo Marketplace had to offer me. As one of the women I spoke to put it, “the leftovers are probably only feeding the geese on Lake Morton by now.”