For those who enjoy Italian food that doesn’t come from a chain, Franco’s Pizza was amongst the city of Grayson’s best-kept secrets. Located off Grayson Hwy., the family-run pizzeria was a casual sit-down joint serving simple pastas, chicken wings, salads and, most importantly, pizzas made with Mark Petersen’s handmade doughs.
After a wild ride that lasted about six-and-a-half years, Mark and his wife Debbie knew Franco’s had reached an expiration date. “We came to a point where we were working 80 to 90 hours a week, and it was taking a toll.” But Mark, who learned to cook in his high school home economics class, never gave up on the idea of running his own shop. He just needed to find a different business model.
When Mark and Debbie launched “Petersen's Bakery in January 2018, they decided to try the cottage industry model. The idea was to lose the brick and mortar and go small-scale so that Mark could invest his energy into baking high-quality, artisan loaves and pastries. “In the cottage industry, we do not sell to a middle man. We go directly to the users,” Mark said.
Each week, he keeps his customers on their toes by rotating the menu with fresh, breads and pastries. The Herb and Cheese Foccacia tend to sell out, and baguettes are what Mark considers the most “versatile” of breads, great for sandwiches or dipping in olive oil.
Not one to cut corners, Mark prides himself on using the best ingredients he can find and do what tastes best, even if it takes longer.
Mark explained, “The sourdough and the baguette are what we call retarded doughs, meaning I refrigerate them for up to 36 hours before baking them. And the sourdough, I refrigerate overnight.” In all his recipes, Mark avoids using processed ingredients, for his sourdoughs, he uses a natural, sugar-free yeast starter to create the distinctive fermented taste.
“There’s something about processed foods we eat these days. I wonder if it’s why we have so many ailments,” he said.
Mark now enjoys a healthy work-life balance with the cottage-style bakery. He’s able to put that extra care into his doughs and take time to chat with his clients. And having recently celebrated the birth of his first grandchild, — healthy little girl, born in late July – time is more important than ever.
Petersen’s Bakery is certified through the Department of Agriculture and provides catering services for parties, corporate events, and offices. Their menu ranges from light to hearty breads including Rustic French, Butter Croissants, Honey Wheat, Italian Hearth Loaf. And with options such as Cinnamon Rolls and sweet and savory Danishes, his homemade pastries tend to be crowd-pleasers for all kinds of events. “I’ve done a few office events where they cater to light breakfasts, like danishes or chocolate croissants. We keep it simple.” To place a special order or to inquire about catering, email Mark at “2MarkPetersen@gmail.com”.