Bill Sheeder and his fiancee, Stephanie Sellers, must be great jugglers. They've got many balls in the air at their new, growing business, Baked Beer & Bread Co., at 1113 Mound St., Village of East Davenport.
Opening last November as a bakery, the spacious wood-planked building also is a bar, restaurant, brewery and live music venue. The 100-seat restaurant opened with a special "420" fest April 20-23.
"There are so many moving parts," says Sellers, 29. "We've had to open in steps."
Sellers owned The Sweet Life, a LeClaire bakery, from 2010 to 2014. The couple started BREW in Davenport in Sept. 2014, and recently sold it to focus on the rising Baked.
Sheeder, a 35-year-old Rock Island native, and Sellers wanted to expand BREW's offerings, but there was no kitchen. The limited menu has used a TurboChef oven behind the bar.
The Baked building — the former Woodland Art Gallery — had been for sale in 2012. In 2015, Sheeder asked if it was still for sale.
"I brought her here, and she thought I was crazy," he says. "I looked through the window and thought, 'This would be an amazing restaurant. I really want to do this. It would be awesome.'"
Sheeder has owned Top Notch Cleaning offering commercial cleaning services since 2013; it's still his main business with 20 employees. BREW and Baked put his food-service background into practice, after several years — including management — for pizza places such as Harris, Little Caesars and Bad Boyz.
"There's more than a little personal fault of ambition," he says, of getting Baked.
"It grew into such an ambitious project," Sellers says, noting they wanted to make their own bread, desserts and beer to take BREW to the next level. "Then we started looking for a place and came across this place. It bloomed into this much bigger project."
The rustic 6,000-square-foot Baked building is six times the size of BREW, and the partners have done extensive renovations totaling about $1 million. Triumph Community Bank has helped finance the work.
They opened the bakery in November with a front retail counter. The goodies include sourdough, rye, baguette, challah, focaccia and brioche breads; croissants, danishes, scones, cinnamon rolls, pound cake, cookies, cupcakes, brownies and flourless cakes.
They gutted a loft area and added a 35-foot-long wood-paneled bar, kitchen, beer-making equipment, railings, stage, TV screens, indoor hanging lights and handicapped accessibility.
Sheeder's friend Michael Peters, who owns Milan-based Rusty Spur Designs, installed barn boards — some from barns more than 100 years old — including a huge American flag on a wall that's a popular photo op for customers.
The couple opened the bar — with, like BREW, a healthy selection of locally made craft brews — for the GAS Feed & Seed Fest in mid-February, which featured a catered dinner the first night with 100 people, including 30 artists. Baked hosted live music from 25 acts during the GAS Fest, and plans to have live music every weekend.
The two also launched the annual East Fest on Labor Day weekend 2015, along a blocked-off 11th Street. Sean Moeller is the booking manager for that, as well as GAS Fest and many of the regular Baked shows.
"The Village needs more festivals and stuff going on," Sellers says. "We have such a unique music scene in the Quad-Cities; it'd be such a shame not to take advantage of that."
The first band at Baked — Susto — played on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5.
"It's been great working Baked into a recently very active Village of East Davenport scene," Moeller says. "Bill and Steph are great to work with and they want great things to happen in the Village, for the betterment of the entire neighborhood. That's my slice of town too, so building the Village into a more prominent hot spot is just as important to me as it is to them and they've really doubled-down on the area."
The couple hired Brian Traughber, who owns U.Brew, a home-brewing supply and equipment store in Moline, to make their own beer — including a porter, Irish red, IPA and a light wheat beer — and Baked plans monthly tastings.
Since April, Baked has grown from 20-plus employees to about 50. The restaurant will open daily for lunch at 11 a.m., serving food continuously until 10 p.m. daily. Bakery hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
"The food is gonna be phenomenal," Sheeder says, calling it "upscale comfort food; a lot of carbs." They also have a light acoustic and jazz music Sunday brunch, which "will be unique and awesome," he says.
Their chef, Phillip Winkler, who grew up in farm country in Anderson, Ind., has been an executive chef in Los Angeles, Nevada and Arizona. Most recently, he was top chef at the Prairie Links golf course in Waverly, Iowa.
"I'm a firm believer in farm to fork, and utilizing our local farmers," Winkler says. "Obtaining the freshest ingredients as possible to provide you, our guests, an experience so that you will want to come back again and again.
"Bill and Stephanie are amazing, and have a great vision for Baked, of which I am humbled and honored to be part of that team and vision," he says.
Baked also sells breads and baked goods to local restaurants, including Central Standard, Bass Street Chop House, Front Street and the Figge Cafe. Sheeder says they eventually hope to distribute their beer to the area.