Red Truck Bakery delivers Southern style, charm and moonshine-infused treats to a national clientele
How does a former magazine art director become the owner of one of the most heralded bakeries – The New York Times, Esquire and Southern Living are among the many singing it’s praises – in the country? The answer starts with a red, 1954 Ford F-100 purchased from Tommy Hilfiger.
Red Truck Bakery, located in Warrenton, Virginia, began as a local southern gem that exploded into nationwide success. Owner Brian Noyes began baking pies, bread and granola out of an old farmhouse he purchased in 2007 with his partner, Dwight McNeill, and sold his product out of that aforementioned red truck at country markets across the Virginia piedmont.
The vintage truck, a piece Noyes thought would go well with his new farmhouse, was found online through an anonymous seller at a motor sports company in New York. “I’ve always been enamored with them,” Noyes said. After being vetted for the purchase, the seller turned out to be none other than the eponymous American fashion designer, Tommy Hilfiger.
Noyes continued to sell his goods out of that bright red truck on weekends while working as the art director for Smithsonian magazine. As customer demand blossomed, along with Noyes’ passion for and training in baking did (which included two stints through the Culinary Institute of America’s baking program), Noyes hit the jackpot when a customer took one of his pies to a picnic where The New York Times food writer, Maria Burros, happened to be. Burros, encapsulated by Noyes’ baking, featured him in her round-up of best holiday foods. When the article was published, hits on Noyes website skyrocketed from 24 one day to 57,000 the next.
“My partner Dwight and I worked madly to get hundreds of orders shipped by Christmas [following the article’s publication],” said Noyes. “That’s when I knew it was time to look for a bakery site and do this full-time. I had just turned 50 and knew if I ever was going to do it, it had to be soon.”
Red Truck Bakery quickly became the little neighborhood bakery that could. Neatly positioned in what Noyes describes as “the middle of nowhere,” Red Truck Bakery attracts visitors from all over the country. “I designed this place as a destination,” said Noyes, knowing that it “had potential to lure others as an escape.”
An escape it has proven to be. The area, which is in the center of the East Coast local food movement, is home to some of the best produce farms, orchards and dairies around. These local, seasonal ingredients play heavily into the goods Noyes bakes year-round; peach treats in the summer, apple delights in the fall.
“I’ve embraced all things Southern here and use that as a major influence,” said Noyes. And nothing screams Southern more than Red Truck’s signature gift item: the chocolate moonshine cake. The boozy concoction was born when Noyes found that the corn whiskey from Virginia’s first legal ‘shiner paired mighty well with chocolate. Adding in a little nutmeg to round out the flavor, Noyes created a cake which he says has “taken on a life of it’s own.” McNeill’s ingenious tagline for the sinfully Southern treat? “Eat responsibly.”
Noyes’ most popular product, however, is his granola, a recipe that took several years to perfect. The item was always the first to fly out of his red truck, and launched into the stratosphere popularity wise when the Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmerman was quoted as eating Red Truck’s granola everyday for breakfast.
With all of his success, the sheer demand for Noyes’ products has left little room to handle the massive amount of orders he receives. While still wanting to maintain the charm of their small location out of an old filling station, Noyes is looking for an “equally charming larger space” that will ensure Red Truck Bakery is “the destination that out-of-towners love to visit.”