We envisioned a grab-and-go bakery that would supply our neighborhood with breads, bagels, sweet treats, and delicious things that go with bread.
Allison and Sonja met in the mid 1990's in Asheville, NC. They bonded over a love of baking, the Stars dessert cookbook by Emily Luchetti, dogs and country living. Allison soon moved back to Portland and although they kept in sporadic touch over the years it wasn't until Sonja moved to Vermont that they truly reconnected. Sonja (along with new beau Bob) made a visit to Allison in South Portland in the fall of 2003 and fell in love with the area and what she was doing with her bakery/cafe One Fifty Ate. Spying a small for sale sign in a building that seemed a bit run down Bob and Sonja decided in one weekend to make a leap - let's buy this building, move to Maine, partner with Al and somehow get involved in the bakery business! Bob and Sonja arrived in Maine for good in November of 2003 and the following March started work on the bakery while living in the upstairs apartment. They were all confident that the 1918 building which had always been a center of the Willard neighborhood housing at various times an A&P grocery, a pharmacy, a heating company, a children's clothing store and others lost in time, would make a perfect neighborhood bake shop.
They opened in June of 2004 as One Fifty Ate at Willard Square and in all the excitement even forgot to get a cash drawer for that first morning! The first years flew by as Al and Sonja baked and baked while Bob manned the front, brewing coffee and building friendships. In December of 2006 they changed the name to Scratch Baking Co. to celebrate Cindy Lou getting her very own dog named 'Scratch'. The business continued to grow as people discovered the charm of the Willard neighborhood and word of the delicious baked goods and energy coming out of 416 Preble St. spread. New mixers, ovens and staff were added as the scope of baked goods expanded to include savory eats, more handmade market items and of course more and more bagels!
In 2015, bursting at the seams on Willard Square, Bob, Sonja, and Allison made the decision to build a new bakery just for bread and bagels and move their production to 205 Broadway Ave. in South Portland (the old Getty Station). They also hired Patti Smith as head 'wrangler' and all around amazing business person to help Scratch grow to the next level. Perhaps most exciting is they are currently hard at work on turning the old oil change bay next to the Bread/Bagel Kitchen into a toast and bagel bar. Stay tuned for this next chapter!
All Things Sweet
Sonja Swanberg grew up in Savannah, Georgia and attended college in Asheville, NC where a she earned a degree in Environmental Science. A chance job baking for a summer sidelined plans of a biology career and she's never looked back. And although she now calls Maine home, she’ll always be a Southern girl at heart.
All Things Business
Bob Johnson seems to always find himself around fermentations. He was a cheese maker at Shelburne Farms in VT, and prior to helping to co-found Scratch, was the co-founder of Magic Hat Brewing Company. When not in the bakery, he can be found home brewing beer, spinning records, riding his bike, and spending lost hours in his canoe pretending to fish.
All Things Bread
Allison grew up by the shore in New Jersey and spent summers in North Carolina watching her grandmother cook. She found her heart in Maine and her soul in bread.