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West End Bakery

West End Bakery, West Asheville, NC

I was sitting in this very place when I decided that I absolutely had to move to Asheville. And we actually ended up moving a block and a half away from West End Bakery where we lived for a year. I had the good fortune of being in walking distance of this blissful stretch of Haywood Road and all the fair trade, local, organic goodness it has to offer. So let’s get to it, shall we?

Credit: WestEndBakery.com

COFFEE: Like we said, it’s fair-trade, organic, and you can’t get more local than roasters right down the street. Get your mug at the register and choose from two thermoses of regular and one decaf. They also have organic espresso and tea options including some tempting herbal iced tea specials in the summer.

Credit: WestEndBakery.com

FOOD: This is a bakery first and foremost, so any pastry, sandwich or biscuit-based menu item you order is gonna be a winner. They have cinnamon buns the size of frisbees, and a chalkboard listing the many locally sourced ingredients. For a bakery, they’re awfully conscious of the gluten-free customer, and it’s West, so you know there’s plenty of vegetarian options (try the tofu sandwich on their spelt bread — yummm!).

INTERNET: The Wi-Fi is free and flowin’, but my one complaint is that the smaller room toward the back where I prefer to work doesn’t have any outlets. And I only counted a couple of places in the main room to plug in. So be sure to scout before you sit or come fully charged if you plan to stay awhile.

VIBE: This place just says West Asheville to me. It’s a very  neighborhoody, hold-the-door-open-for-the-person-behind-you kind of place where at least one person in earshot will say “No worries.” The last time I was there, a woman two people ahead of me in line was short a couple of dollars. The woman between us handed her some cash to make up the difference. There was the obligatory refusal/insistence dance until the first woman finally, gratefully accepted. I assumed they were at lunch together and that it was a friend paying for another friend’s coffee. Turns out they were total strangers. That’s West End Bakery.

Credit: WestEndBakery.com

GREENERY: What isn’t green here? They compost, they recycle, they support sustainable agriculture, they use 100% organic flour and use organic and local everything else whenever possible (there’s even local soap in the bathroom).

KIDDING: If your child can play nicely in one area (and not climb on tables and crawl behind the counter under the waitstaffs’ feet like mind would), this would be a great place to come with kids if you want to get a little work done outside the house. They have a play area at the front of the bakery with toys and books and comfy chairs so you can keep one eye on your screen and one eye on your little guy. The area is not contained and is right near the front door, so you would need make sure your child stays out of door traffic. Basically he or she has to be able to listen. And if your child does listen to you, please share your secret. I’d love to know how to get my son to do that.

West End Bakery, 757 Haywood Rd, West Asheville, NC, 28806


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Kneaded Pleasures Café & Bakery

Contributed by Kelly Love Johnson, a freelance writer, editor and media consultant in Austin, TX.

Kneaded Pleasures Café & Bakery in Austin, TX.

Even though this isn’t my absolute favorite place for café working, I spend more time here than the other places in Austin because it’s about five minutes (walking distance) away from my house.  Kneaded Pleasures is in a strip mall sandwiched between a CVS and a post office.

When I start to get a little stir-crazy working from home, this is a great place to go and have breakfast (amazing breakfast tacos and they also have good bagels) and get some work done. It opens at 7am and is large, so there’s always an open table. They have a lot of regulars, mostly neighborhood folks, and people are friendly, but polite if it’s clear you’re working face-in-laptop.

The staff is also friendly, even when I’ve complained about the one negative thing…

1.     Rules! They have a strict rule about no computer use at their tables Monday-Friday, 11am-2pm. They turn off their wi-fi and will inform you of their policy if you still have your computer out during these hours, even if they’re not busy. It’s irritating, because sometimes I work there from 8am for breakfast and hate having to stop at 11am if I’m on a roll.

2.     The food. I eat healthy and stick to egg-white omelets or wheat bagels, every now and then indulging in an egg and cheese breakfast taco. I also love their bagel & lox (with red onion, cream cheese, and capers). However, they bake on site and the whole place smells like a bakery—and you have to stand two feet away from a case full of goodies to order. Hard to resist!

3.     Art. They have a huge mural of Town Lake in Austin on one wall, which is nice to look at when I’m trying to come up with the right words.

4.     Caffeine. The coffee is good about 80% of the time, so it’s a little hit or miss. Sometimes it tastes like it was left over from yesterday. If you ask the person taking your order if the coffee is fresh, they always say “yes,” but I’ve brought my cup back more than once and begged to differ.

5.     The staff. Since they’re rarely crowded, there’s always a table with an outlet nearby, the staff is always apologetic about their “no computer use from 11-2” policy, and they never seem bothered that I camp out with my laptop at a table that is supposed to seat four.

There’s always a strong wi-fi connection (except when they turn it off for their “lunch rush”) and I’ve never had connection problems. I also like that, unlike chains like Starbucks, I’m usually one of 2 or 3 people sitting with my laptop (instead of every single table occupied by a café-working writer). Which makes me feel less like a cliché (“Hello, I am clearly writing/a writer and wish that you would watch me do so”).

Definitely recommend for food and service; just not from 11-2 M-F!

Kneaded Pleasures, 3573 Far West Blvd., Austin, TX  78731