By DAVID BORAKS
Gabriel Dumitrescu was a baker in Romania a decade ago when he shut his bakery one day and brought his family to the United States. It has taken 10 years to get back to his passion: Last week, he opened the doors on Our Daily Bread Bakery, in a shop off West Catawba Avenue.
“All my life I was a baker, in Transylvania,” he said the other day, near the end of a day of baking. “Since I came here, I’ve tried to open a bakery, but it was so hard.”
Dumitrescu, 44, and his wife have five kids, and now live off Floral Lane, in old Cornelius. When they arrived in California 10 years ago, and paying the bills meant taking a job at a trucking company for many years.
While driving a truck, he saw the country, and fell in love with North Carolina and its climate.
“The east coast is almost the same as Transylvania, with four seasons,” he said.
Charlotte had a small Romanian community, and the family found a home here.
He had learned baking from his parents growing up in the town of Sibiu, in the center of Romania. After running a bakery there himself, he decided to bring his skills to the U.S. “I thought the U.S. is the land of opportunity, but it’s not so easy,” he said.
About six months ago, he finally was ready to take the plunge, and open a bakery in his new country. “This is my dream,” he said. “When you cut something in me, you see my blood is baking.”
He notes that there are few bakeries in the area, and notably few that bake home style, in small quantities. He uses no additives – “just yeast, salt and flour,” he said. “For this type of bread, you have to have patience. This is old school.”
Our Daily Bread has European and sourdough breads, baguettes, rye bread, round loaves and German rolls, to name a few. There are also cake pops, caramel cakes and “cornetti,” crescent shaped sweet rolls sprinkled with poppy seeds, which Dumitrescu recommends spread with Nutella.
Stop by for lunch and try out his brick-oven pizza (14-inch $9.99 or 16-inch $11.99) and sandwiches (all $6.99) including German Schnitzel, Philly Cheese Steak, Grilled Chicken or a cold-cut combo. He’ll also serve you coffee or espresso.
One of the holdups to opening the Cornelius shop was the brick oven he built himself. Despite working closely with health and building inspectors, it took several months for Mecklenburg County officials to sign off on his permits.
But he’s open now, and is eager to build a clientele. “This is a good area,” he said of Cornelius. “I hope this business grows to be successful … I hope people will think like me – looking for something original.”
OUR DAILY BREAD
201243 W. Catawba Ave. (near Waffle House)