If you’ve been on North Berwick’s High Street recently, you may have noticed a queue.
It starts right outside the door of Bostock Bakery and stretches along to the butcher, sometimes further.
You have to be prepared to wait patiently if you want to try one of this venue’s loaves, which are made from organic flour and proved for 36 hours, an almond croissant, cruffin, cinnamon buns, doughnuts, sausage roll, or one of their namesakes, a Bostock - a thick slab of brioche that’s topped by frangipane and flaked almonds.
“It’s one of these things, “ says Lindsay Baxter, 38, who owns the business with her husband, Ross, 37. “People ask what time they have to get there to get their hands on a Bostock, or a small country white. It’s so hard, on different days, different items sell out, there seems to be no rhyme or reason. The more we bake, the more people buy”.
The same goes for their year old East Linton cafe and bakery on Dunbar Road. This newer property, which is now their headquarters and houses the main open-plan kitchen, is currently undergoing a makeover - “it’s madness to refurbish a place during a global pandemic, but we did it,” says Lindsay.
Although you can sit in again at the dog-friendly North Berwick branch, with a couple of tables across from their display of bread and cakes under cloches, the East Linton venue just has seating outside at the moment, but will be reopening properly soon, with smart new booths.
The couple, who are both originally from Glasgow, set up the original Bostock seven-years ago, while Lindsay was heavily pregnant with their daughter, Lois.
“We opened in October and I gave birth in December, it felt like we had two children - twins,” she says. “It was a huge life change. I worked in the shop up until the day before I gave birth. We’re both gluttons for punishment, as it’s been non-stop since”.
Despite the workload, and the fact that they fitted the shop out themselves, the Baxters were fully committed to the project.
Apart from a brief stint as a joiner, Ross had previous experience as head pastry chef in the kitchens of Michael Caines Restaurant, Gullane’s Greywalls Hotel & Chez Roux, The Bakery in Dunbar and Malmaison.
“He’s really been learning his craft for a long time. It wasn’t something that came to us and we thought that it might be fun to open a cafe. It was a lifelong career ambition and something he really wanted to do”, says Lindsay.
Ross’s uncle and grandfather are bakers, and his sister is a pastry chef. As Lindsay says, “baking is in his blood”, and Lois is already showing signs of being a prodigy.
“He’ll be recruiting her as soon as he can, as he needs the help in the kitchen,” she says.
Although Lindsay didn’t have the same culinary experience, she was always creative.
After graduating in Textile Design at The Glasgow School of Art, she worked in fashion, as well as television and film as a set decorator and production designer. She also has retail and merchandising experience after working at Anthropologie on George Street in Edinburgh, who are known for their creative window displays, for three years.
“And I’ve always loved food”, she says. “I think it’s our combined skills that make Bostock what it is. Ross is our head baker and pastry chef and is in the kitchen and I very much do everything else. I deal with the people side of the business between both shops, keeping in touch with the team, doing the recruitment, and I’ll be behind the counter serving”.
Although there’s a clear division of labour, many of us would probably find the thought of working with our significant other rather difficult.
“I’m not going to lie, there can be times when it’s challenging to work with your partner and be at home together and not allow work to bleed into home life. I’m sure our daughter could testify to that - we talk about work a lot at home. You never really switch off”, says Lindsay.
“Having said that, Ross and I are both really driven and passionate people and I think no matter what job we’ve done, we're both so invested in anything we do that we’ve always bounced ideas off each other. I can’t imagine it any other way to be honest”.
However, there are “so many things” they wish they’d known before starting a family business.
Although they hoped that it would keep them ticking over, they weren’t really expecting the bakery’s huge success.
“I don’t think we could’ve been prepared for the demand, I think at the start you’re so excited and driven to get this idea off the ground and you just hope that people will come through the door”, Lindsay says.
“When they do it’s so satisfying and a great relief but that’s the start of the roller coaster. It’s fast and furious from that point forward, requires a lot of energy, takes over your life and consumes you but it’s so worthwhile, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
"We’re so grateful that customers come through the door every day, we still get a kick out of it, as if it’s day one”.
Some of the high-points of the last few years include when, in the early days of Bostock, chef patron of Copenhagen’s three Michelin star Noma, Rene Redzepi, who currently has 1m followers, Regrammed one of their Instagram posts of a particularly buttery and flaky croissant.
Then he sent one of his team out to spend the day in the kitchen with Ross to see how they make their signature pastries. “It was really flattering”, says Lindsay.
The couple still use social media to sell their wares.
Currently, they’re drawing in romantic customers with pictures of their beautiful Valentine’s Day patisserie, speciality celebration cakes and entremet.
These colourful and glossy creations seem to be made with a certain joie de vivre, which might reflect some post-lockdown optimism.
The couple managed to weather the pandemic by taking Bostock on the road, offering a delivery service. It was hugely popular, and, like a band on tour, ended up building their following.
“There were some people who hadn’t discovered us until the home delivery”, says Lindsay. “They’ve continued to shop with us in person now, which is really nice.
"We’ve always had a really loyal customer base and have attracted people from far and wide, at both locations. North Berwick is such a tourist hot spot, but our East Linton premises being where it is, situated off the A1, is such a popular through road and route for cyclists”.
We imagine that one of their pastries could provide a lot of pedal power.
As neither of their bakeries are in an anonymous metropolis, they’ve got to know many of the locals. Some of them have been big supporters since the day Bostock opened.
They also offer a discount to other businesses nearby, so they’ll get shop owners popping in for their lunch on a daily basis.
“I really like interacting with the customers. You learn by listening to their feedback”, says Lindsay. “We spend time with them and get to know them really well. We can’t pick favourites though, or we’ll get in trouble.
"I think they know when we’ve got a soft spot for them. Our team is fantastic - a customer will come through the door and they’ll start to get their order ready, because they know exactly what loaf and coffee they’ll want. It’s a nice part of owning a business where we are.
"I think people expect that level of personable service, which we’re delighted to provide. They know us, and that we’re a small independent and have a young family”.
However, their love of this town doesn’t mean that they’ve ruled out ever opening a branch in a city. Lindsay says they’re asked this question regularly, and it’s something they’re taking into consideration.
“I think the Bostock brand is well known enough and developed enough that we could open one or several more”, she says.
“We’re originally from Glasgow and we can see ourselves having a shop there or in Edinburgh and so forth, but we know a bit more than we first started and we know that having another shop is like having another child”.
Fingers crossed there might be another Bostock baby coming to a street near you.
42 High Street, North Berwick, and Dunbar Road, East Linton, www.bostockbakery.co.uk