When Jake Jones and James Talbot met they had no idea that within a few years they’d be running their own artisan bakery in Witney, waking at 4am to bake hundreds of their popular loaves for an ever growing client base.
But what started as a bakery in their own home has now evolved into the successful Pobi Bakery in Witney which has legions of fans amongst locals, pubs and restaurants in Witney and beyond, and wholesalers, in just seven months.
The likes of The Harcourt Arms, The Plough and The Maytime Inn in Witney, and other pubs, cafes and restaurants in Oxfordshire are fans. Indeed my memorable meal at the nearby Hollybush last week contained Pobi’s sourdough croutons. READ IT HERE: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/review-simon-bradleys-food-at-the-hollybush-lives-up-to-all-expectations-and-then-some/
But let’s go back to when the couple met four years ago; Jake is from Barry in Wales while James hails from Eynsham and Witney and went to Bartholomew School.
The pair met on the internet and settled into Witney, Jake working in a local coffee shop, while James was in sales. But when lockdown began and Jake was made redundant, the pair had to think again and decided to pursue their dream – to open a coffee shop and bakery.
“We were painting the new shop until 1am and then getting up three hours later to start baking, it’s been intense, but we wouldn’t change it for the world”
“It could have been a year of real despair but instead it’s been amazing,” says James, “and it’s given us something to do,” he laughs.
Baking from home and selling online, their bakery Pobi soon took off to the extent that they needed a premises of their own.
Finding a premises on Corn Street, and help from Virgin StartUp, it was all systems go. “We were painting the new shop until 1am and then getting up three hours later to start baking, it’s been intense, but we wouldn’t change it for the world,” James says.
“We are so grateful for the local support. We love the way people come in to discuss their own sourdough recipes with us”
Taking on new staff and cake maker supremo Amy Wilkinson, and then Laura Newell who graduated from the Artisan School of Food with a diploma in baking, gradually their name spread and pubs and restaurants began supplying them.
They are also currently in talks with several Oxfordshire cafes, pubs and restaurants to develop speciality loaves, so there are lots of projects on the go.
But in the meantime, Jake and James can be found baking, and serving their six breads made with local ingredients – including Matthews Cotswold flour from Shipton Under Wychwood, Oxford’s Routes coffee and milk from North Cotswolds Dairy Co, cakes and coffee at their Corn Street premises.
the name Pobi means bakery in Welsh
“We couldn’t be happier. We are so grateful to the local residents and businesses for supporting us. We love the way people come in to discuss their own sourdough recipes with us. (FYI sourdough aficionados – they make their own starter!)
As for the name Pobi, it means bakery in Welsh, which brings us round to Jake and James’ next plan, to open a bakery in Jake’s hometown of Barry. They also hope to open a bakery school in Witney.
In the meantime, they are setting up a few tables outside in the next few weeks, and have taken on a production kitchen nearby to cope with the increase in demand .
So how do they feel about their instant success. “It was such a scary step to take. I resigned from my job which was the only stable salary we had between us, to do this. But we would never have done it if we didn’t have absolutely conviction that it would succeed.
As for them as a couple, James said: “It’s been great because we get to spend all our time together doing something we love, rather than coming home tired in the evenings from the office.
“Put it this way, we spend a lot of time smiling, even at 4am. We love running our own business, especially while Witney’s food scene is changing so rapidly.
And then he pauses, “although it would be nice to pop out for a pint sometime soon.”