As the sun rises, Drew Gahagan meticulously kneads and shapes dough at his bakery in downtown Brunswick, a small town in Georgia. In no time, Gahagan is pulling steaming loaves of ciabatta, focaccia, and Pain paysan out of the oven.
Beloved regular Mr. Ron is already waiting outside the bakery. He orders only off-menu patisseries, and complains good-naturedly when he has to get something else. But he’ll be here again the next day, a fixture of the breakfast crowd, waiting faithfully underneath an old-fashioned sign that reads “The Village Oven.”
After the morning rush come the throngs of lunchers, and soon Gahagan is placing supply orders for the next day, and the staff is cleaning and closing the bakery.
This isn’t the life Gahagan has always led. In fact, before he was a baker, he worked as a chemical engineer for more than 40 years.
“I worked over 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry,” he says. At Merck, Gahagan was a director for 25 years. “I also had the opportunity to work with several startups, and then I took a position [at Renessenz LLC] right here in Brunswick, first in operations and then in process safety.”
When Gahagan lost his job in 2016, he decided that it was time for a serious change of pace. He opened the doors to The Village Oven in July of this year, but that...
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