In the year 1995, DVDs were new, the Grateful Dead played their final concert, and E.R. was the top show on television. Over the past twenty years, these milestones seem to have faded into the background. Staying popular, relevant, and desired for two decades is quite the feat. As downtown Oxford, Mississippi’s Bottletree Bakery celebrates their twentieth anniversary this Spring; they’re making longevity look easy.
Bottletree Bakery’s owner, Cynthia Gerlach, moved to Mississippi from Portland, Oregon, to attend Ole Miss in 1987. Gerlach always had a taste for good coffee and bread and used to return from trips back home with packages of the two to store in her freezer at college. During her initial years in Oxford, she noticed “there wasn’t a community place for people of all ages to gather.” So in 1995, in an old Flower Mart building, Gerlach opened the Bottletree Bakery, a place where she hoped students, locals, and tourists could all enjoy great food, great coffee, and great company.
What keeps people coming back to the Bottletree year after year? Gerlach attributes her success to baking a good, consistent product, noting that “the baked goods that I make today are the same baked goods I made twenty years ago.” But the Bottletree’s appeal goes beyond its menu. Decorated with unique folk art, the Bottletree celebrates local artists and Southern culture; Gerlach truly has created a community house for Oxford. The Bottletree is one part gathering place, two parts bakery, with a splash of whimsy. Here’s to visiting for the next twenty years.