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Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch: Main Street Bakery-A Business

11 August 2013

by Reuben Gutierrez

Last week, we told the tale of the renewed Main Street Bakery, namely how the Disney Imagineers managed to fit the park's newest corporate partner into a street set nearly a century before its time. This week, we'll examine whether this renewed 'bakery' deserves such a title. In order to do this, we'll need a more practical exploration of the Bakery as it stands today. In Disney's official press release announcing the addition of Starbucks coffee to the Main Street Bakery's menu, the clever wording implies that the beloved Main Street Bakery would not disappear, with many 'bakery favorites' returning alongside popular food items from Starbucks.

Among these favorites were the chocolate croissant (also found throughout the resort) and the Main Street Bakery's cinnamon roll, exclusive to the popular eatery. Giant, fluffy, and smothered in honey smear and a flat icing, the Main Street Bakery Cinnamon roll essentially served as a rite of passage for any Disney foodie. When the bakery closed for its refurbishment into Starbucks, both the popular cinnamon roll and the chocolate croissant saw relocation to Gaston's Tavern in New Fantasyland. Most fans speculated this temporary solution would be remedied once Starbucks re-opened. Their favorites would return, right? After all, on opening week, a hand out menu of the renewed bakery listed all the fabulous Starbucks beverages, while the the other side listed some sandwiches, and a note reminding guests to check out the pastries in the bakery case. Although individual items were not listed, two items were pictured: the chocolate croissant and the cinnamon roll.

Disney starbucks menu

Below is a picture of the display case on opening weekend. As you can see, the top two rows feature a variety of the typical Starbucks pastries like the lemon loaf, the cake pops, and assorted muffins. The bottom two rows contain brownies, cookies, and cupcakes. These three items are the only survivors from the original Main Street Bakery, but the cupcakes are not the same (more on that later). So where are the chocolate croissants and cinnamon rolls? Still at Gaston's. As far as I know, the powers that be have no plans to move them back to Main Street Bakery. If that's not false advertising, then you can call me a monkey's uncle.

Main street Bakery

I have been to the Main Street Bakery countless times since then, with the offerings remaining the same, only with the addition of more Starbucks pastries. Online research reveals other writers concluding that even the brownies came from Starbucks. Thus, the only bakery favorites to truly return are the cookies and the cupcake (supposedly).

This brings us to a review of the peanut butter cupcake, which was one of the items I tried when I did the cast preview for the bakery. It tasted okay, after all, this is just a chocolate cupcake featuring peanut butter and chocolate frosting on top, with peanut butter and chocolate garnishes. It looked very pretty, but overall, it seemed only okay. This did not taste like the moist and lusciously rich peanut butter cupcake I had last year at the Main Street Bakery. The cupcake portion was a bit dry, and the entire dessert was very cold, meaning it had been sitting in refrigeration for a long time. This tells me one of two things: either they made it very early that morning, or some other bakery made it days ago. My gut feeling sadly pointed to the latter scenario.

Regardless who made what and where (and pointedly, when), the abundance of breads, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, and other pastries help this particular shop fit the expected definition of a bakery. Disney still can appropriately call this the Main Street Bakery, but while it holds the name, it does not truly honor its legacy. When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, chefs and cooks made most of the park's food in one central location; sometime in the 1980s, they eventually spread out to kitchens at nearly all food locations throughout the park. Since then, the Main Street Bakery had been baking fresh goods right on the premises, a practice commonly advertised not just on Main Street, but in bakeries and diners and restaurants all over the country. In early 2013, Main Street Bakery would bake its last cinnamon roll, then serve its last pastry. The cooks dispersed to other kitchens throughout the park (luckily, they still make the cinnamon rolls today for Gaston's Tavern), the kitchen dismantled, and a new cast and pre-made ready to eat pastries delivered in its place. In all fairness, the cookies still get baked fresh, as do the hot foods the 'bakery' serves, but still that's a small cry from the baked bounties this small-town bakery used to make. In my opinion, the 'Main Street Bakery' is a misnomer; the shop in its place does not deserve such a title.

Starbucks in Magic Kingdom

Mind you, I don't intend to say that Starbucks is bad or that we should shun the new bakery. Bringing in Starbucks solved a lot of problems, mainly in providing a trusted, quality coffee brand to guests. I love their shaken iced teas and recently gained a liking for their refreshers, especially while exploring the Magic Kingdom on a sunny day. Also, the redesign more than doubled the number of registers and fully expanded the queue throughout the length of the original bakery space (much like the Board Walk Bakery's remodel), two actions that increased both efficiency and guest volume, which helped serve more guests and serve them quickly. Though the bakery is still very busy, wait time for beverages, breakfasts, and snacks has been significantly reduced, allowing guests more time to eat, drink, and play.

Sunday Brunch

Main Street Bakery with Starbucks
'Genteel tearoom' becomes a cold counter

Guests were promised a return of 'bakery favorites,' but when it came down to it, the only 'favorites' to return were the same cookies you find everywhere else in the Disney World. The real and only star of the Main Street Bakery is Starbucks. The majority of guests patron the Main Street Bakery for the Starbucks coffee, not for the treats promised by its name. Again, while essentially corporate sponsorship is nothing new to Main Street (another topic for next time), this business partnership expunged the identity of the bakery. Progress comes with a price. Gone is the indoor seating in which to enjoy these treats. Gone is the quaint atmosphere of a small town bakery and 'genteel tearoom.' And probably the biggest price to pay: gone are all but one of the original, fresh-baked, made-with-love bakery treats.


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