The Dusty Knuckle Bakery (TDKB) was founded by Max Tobias and Rebecca Oliver in 2014 with the mission to make bread and build the community. They are an award-winning social enterprise working with young people facing barriers to financial independence: youth offenders, early school leavers and the long-term unemployed. Their aim is to advance the lives of young people on the margins of society via affinity with a professional baking team, meaningful employment and integrating into the community.
After 3 years of operating in a shipping container an opportunity arose to move into a vacant commercial unit adjacent to their shipping container. HUT joined in with a raft of consultants on a pro-bono basis to help secure planning permission and design the fit-out for the new bakery and cafe space. The project was to be realised on a shoestring budget, bolstered by donations in kind from local businesses, builders and manufacturers.
The main design challenge was transforming a redundant office space into a wholesale bakery & cafe specialising in sough dough bread; which requires very specific preparation. The space had to function over a 24 hour period required for the baking process, be changeable to allow for the rush of 100 outgoing deliveries first thing in the morning, operate as a fully functioning cafe (without the possibility of a commercial cooking kitchen due to planning constraints) and perform as a teaching space for the social enterprise side of the business.
The existing industrial unit was stripped back to the shell and a tight new layout devised to accommodate three main zones; the bakery itself, café & retail area and outside ‘flour’ garden. Much of the fit out was achieved using recycled materials put together in straightforward ways to create a crafted space with a homemade feel. Off the shelf building materials completed the fit out and were transformed into bread display walls, café counter, moveable bread making table and feature lights for the flour garden. Reclaimed furniture and scavenged plants provided the finishing touches to this new destination café.
Having a designed permanent space, has allowed The Dusty Knuckle to redevelop their long term plans for social impact. They have been piloting key programs alongside preparing the commercial operations. They now offer onsite youth services (Top Boy Bakers Project) in addition to baking classes to people of all ages in the borough. A further 125 young people have benefited from the education classes in food and baking that they have delivered in schools and youth clubs. To date they have engaged 6 high risk young people with either paid contractual work or structured progression-based work experience in the bakery. They are in the process of seeking a long term partnership with a youth charity who will co-ordinate the referral stream and needs requirements of the young people coming through, thereby increasing our capacity to deliver impact to this beneficiary group.
Not only has the cafe element been highly successful, since the move TDKB has significantly increased their commercial bakery operations and have gone on to secure supplying high profile restaurants previously out of reach. Their core team has been strengthened and staff wellbeing overall greatly improved with the addition of staff facilities and a properly ventilated and heated workspace.