Road Trip to Red Truck Bakery
Arlingtonian Brian Noyes has bakeries in Marshall and Warrenton. And they're worth the drive.
Brian Noyes opened his first Red Truck Bakery in a converted Esso gas station in picturesque Warrenton in 2009, just after the Great Recession. As the economy turned around, business boomed (former President Obama is a fan of his sweet-potato-pecan pie) and Noyes opened a second, larger location in Marshall, Virginia, in 2015. He and his husband, architect Dwight McNeill, now split their time between Arlington’s Glebewood neighborhood and a farmhouse in Fauquier County. If you need a sweet excuse for a road trip to the countryside, type Red Truck into your Waze app and go. www.redtruckbakery.com
Give us the 411 on Red Truck and how it all began.
I had a career in magazine publishing and was an art director at The Washington Post. In 2005, Dwight and I bought a farmhouse in Orlean, along with a 1954 red Ford F-100 pickup truck online that turned out to belong to Tommy Hilfiger. I was taking Fridays off and baking as much bread, cakes, focaccia, granola and pies as I could. Then I would sell them out of the truck on Saturdays in Orlean and in Rappahannock County. We’d sell out.
When did you first get the baking bug?
I started cooking in high school, then got into baking. My uncle [in Florida] and I started sending each other baked goods back and forth, with recipes. He’d send mine back with corrections marked in red. Later on I took programs at the Culinary Institute of America [Hyde Park, New York] and then at L’Academie de Cuisine [Gaithersburg, Maryland] for two years while I was at The Post.
What was your big break?
Baking was a weekend hobby until food writer Marian Burros got ahold of some of our goodies. She wrote us up in The New York Times in 2008 as part of a year-end wrap-up of great foods that you could order online. The day before the article ran, we had 24 hits on our website. The day the story came out, 57,000 hits.
What’s on the menu for spring?
I came up with this intense chocolate cake made with Guinness Stout and added a Baileys Irish Cream glaze for St. Patrick’s Day. Meyer lemon cake is our spring answer to Shenandoah apple cake in the fall. We’ll also have hot cross buns and lemon chess pies leading up to Easter, and raspberry frangipane tarts.
What’s a typical day like?
I’m no longer going in at 3 a.m. I have good staff at both places. I come in before we open [7 a.m.] and try to stay until we close [3 p.m.]. I’m in the kitchen making things and coming up with new ideas. Currently I’m the pimento cheese guy. It’s my Aunt Darla’s recipe from Bristol, Tennessee. It has a little heat, a little smoke.
Do you foresee another bakery in your future?
So many people come in and say, “We want you to open in Arlington, in Richmond.” It’s so hard running two places that I can’t fathom a third. It could happen, but I like the rural thing. I’d never want to be shoehorned into some strip center.
Any favorite Arlington food haunts?
When I’m out in the country, the Arlington staple I miss the most is Crisp & Juicy Chicken’s Peruvian rotisserie chicken with spicy dipping sauce on Lee Highway. I always make a beeline there and leave with several whole chickens. They’re incredible.