Flint, MI—Despite the season’s first snow and what food service manager John Rigg called “opening quietly,” the soft launch of Carriage Town Bakery saw a steady stream of patrons ordering donuts by the dozen on the morning of Nov. 15, 2022.

The bakery at 604 Garland St. grew out of the success of Blueline Donuts, an enterprise branch of Carriage Town Ministries’ work that provides low-barrier transitional employment to its shelter residents and other unhoused community members.

“This has been a dream ever since we started making the donuts,” said Rigg, sitting atop a low-backed white stool at the bakery’s new countertop. “The vision is to give our transitional employees a place to gain retail skills.”

Blueline was launched in 2017 and slowly grew into a retail and wholesale supplier of donuts for Flint and Genesee County. Carriage Town Ministries then decided to open a separate bakery location just across the street from the organization’s main building, finalizing the deal right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“That’s actually what held this whole project up,” said Nic Gatlin, Carriage Town Ministries Director of Human Relations & Operations. “Just COVID, and just the way that the construction world went with that.”

Donuts rest in a glass case at Carriage Town Bakery in Flint, Mich. on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)

Rigg noted there’s been “a little confusion” around the space’s name since they started the build-out, which he helped to clarify over the scents of glazed donuts and warm coffee.

“We’ve named the building Carriage Town Bakery, but we sell Blueline Donuts,” he explained, adding that the team wanted the building’s name to leave room for expanding beyond donuts and its current operating hours.

“As we grow the bake side of it, we’ll probably stay open longer to service baked goods as well—cakes and cupcakes,” Riggs said, pointing to shelves of apple pie cupcakes on display in a shiny, glass-doored cooler. He also said they would rotate some offerings, including bagels, in the near future.

Food Service Manager John Rigg poses for a portrait at Carriage Town Bakery in Flint, Mich. on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)

Carriage Town Bakery‘s current hours are 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday to Friday until Jan. 10, 2023 when a grand opening event will take place and hours may change. 

Gatlin also noted there’s more equipment to be installed, including additional display cases and an espresso machine, which their partners at Foster Coffee Company will train the bakery’s staff to use.

“We just want to get it going,” Rigg said of why the team decided to open even as they wait for final touches to arrive. The team’s choice seemed a good one as Rigg looked around a cheery, modern bakery full of customers and Gatlin shook hands with a family of new arrivals.

“So in turn, we’re thanking the public for your patience,” Rigg concluded. “Like all of us, Carriage Town Bakery is a work in progress.”

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....