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New London Bakery Offers Bread and Community

  • Blue Loon Bakery owner Laurie Schive takes hot baguettes out of the oven in New London, N.H., on Aug. 16, 2018. Schive and her husband opened the bakery at the end of June. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Tabitha Lemelin, of Sutton, N.H., chats with Blue Loon Bakery owner Mike Morgan as she carries her baby into the bakery in New London, N.H., on Aug. 16, 2018. Lemelin said she comes to the bakery as often as she can. "It is a gem to have here," she said. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Sarah Anderson, of Springfield, N.H., orders pastries from employee Gregg Ladouceur at Blue Loon Bakery in New London, N.H., on Aug. 18, 2018. Ladouceur's grandmother was a tenant in the building the bakery is now in. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Laurie Schive and her son Henry Dalgleish prepare croissants for baking at Blue Loon Bakery in New London, N.H., on Aug. 18, 2018. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Ham and cheese "biffins" and almond croissants are some of the pastries offered at the Blue Loon Bakery in New London, N.H., on Aug. 16, 2018. A biffin is a creation of the bakery it is a cross between a biscuit and a muffin. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



For the Valley News
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

When Laurie Schive and Mike Morgan moved to New London permanently two years ago, Schive, a lifelong baker, began baking for the contractors who were working on their home.

It was on one of these mornings, rising at 4 to turn out a batch of fresh bagels, that the idea for a bakery crystallized. It gained momentum when she joined the Bread Bakers Guild of America and realized that baking had become a new way of life for hobbyists from all sorts of careers — although perhaps not many were former senior officers in the CIA.

The couple opened Blue Loon Bakery in their adopted hometown at the end of June. For Morgan, 62, and Schive, 51, who were married in 2008, the bakery, at the intersection of Lovering Lane and Main Street, is as much a new adventure in an eventful and accomplished life as it is a return to old interests: Morgan relished coming back to an area he fell in love with as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College. Schive was eager to plunge deeper into baking. And both of them see their new business as an active participation in a network — in this case, a connected group of suppliers, employees, and customers — that reminds them of the human linkages they fostered for decades in intelligence-gathering for the CIA and, later, in corporate risk management, Schive at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Morgan at Raytheon.

Morgan explained that running a bakery is more closely related to gathering intelligence from agents than it might seem.

“I feel serving our community is a little bit the same,” Morgan said. “Human connections are at the heart of (intelligence work) and it’s the same in business. In both jobs, it’s about developing an understanding about cultures and environments and who lives there, and getting to know those people. Intelligence officers and small business owners want — indeed, need — to know what’s going on around them, to connect to people and stay in touch.”

One aspect of this is the Blue Loon’s commitment to sourcing from local and regional suppliers. Their grains come from King Arthur Flour, their butter from Vermont Creamery, their produce from New London’s Spring Ledge Farm and Bascom Road Blueberry Farm in Newport, and their coffee from Wayfarer Coffee in Laconia. They sell pints of ice cream from Sanctuary Farm in Sunapee, because “it’s the best anywhere,” Morgan said.

“Every time we look at what we can use, we try to find something local — New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, a couple things in the greater New England area,” said Schive. For them, strengthening the local business infrastructure and adding value to their products is worth the hazards of working with nearby, small-scale suppliers — hazards such as sudden shortages.

“It’s a bit of risk management,” Schive said, referring to her past career and relating a story of an emergency run up to Lebanon for an essential ingredient.

Another particularly fitting aspect of their investment in the local area is that Blue Loon (which was named by Schive’s and Morgan’s granddaughter during a family conversation years ago) contributes to the Loon Preservation Committee in Moultonborough, N.H.

Business has been brisk so far, the proprietors said: On their opening weekend alone they served 600 to 700 customers. The Bakery is open Wednesday to Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and is busiest on Saturdays, when patrons flock into the renovated 1830s farmhouse, which now features a front sitting room, a dining area in the back and patio seating. Croissants, Schive said, are top sellers, both butter and chocolate varieties.

The bakery also sells cookies, cinnamon rolls, pastries, baguettes, a variety of loaves and sandwiches. Blue Loon offers three sandwiches a day, two with meat and one vegan. One recent example: roasted squash with peppers and sun-dried tomatoes on focaccia. Other lunch offerings include salads, yogurt parfaits, and savory pastries.

Reflecting their belief that people power their communities, Schive relishes baking products that connect people with each other and with their own food memories. She related the story of a carpenter of Polish parentage who took a loaf of the bakery’s Colby Point country bread — a European style loaf that blends white with rye and wheat flours — home to his mother, who said it tasted just like bread back home in Poland.

“That made me feel good — to bring back that taste. A lot of food is memories. ‘This baguette brings me back to my first trip in college to Paris.’ Or, ‘I tried your sourdough and remembered when I was a teenager and went to San Francisco,’ ” Schive said. “That gets me up at 2:30.”

Schive is in the bakery, every day it’s open, from 3 a.m. to 4 p.m., “with my hands in dough.” Together with a rotation of 13 part- and full-time employees they are the source of all of Blue Loon’s baked goods.

Diligence comes naturally to Schive. “She’s driven. She loads up her schedule to the point where other people will quit, but she does it,” Morgan said. The two related the story of Schive applying for a job in restaurant management at the age of 8. On the strength of her application (and a well placed “slip” of the pen that made her 18 on paper), two men showed up on her doorstep to give her an interview.

Schive began baking as a child in New Jersey. Her grandmother was Italian and she has early memories of making biscotti and ravioli and, later, cookies at opportune moments.

“I discovered as a babysitter that the best way to have happy kids was to bake them something.” She also has fond recollections of the local bakery. “In our little town in New Jersey we had two things I would walk to: the library and the bakery. They were across the street from each other.”

History repeats itself: Blue Loon Bakery is across the street from Morgan Hill Bookstore.

In addition to its array of offerings, the bakery also fulfills catering and special orders and plans to offer a CSB (community supported baking) package, akin to a CSA, where bread could be picked up or delivered on a weekly basis.

In line with their propensity for fostering civic engagement, Schive and Morgan are particularly interested in taking group orders and deliveries, for instance, to local retirement communities.

This reminded Morgan of a story that expands upon his devotion to the idea of community.

“Part of why this is important for me is that it’s a page out of my father’s book,” he said. The senior Morgan was himself a CIA man and the family, for much of Morgan’s childhood, lived in Latin America. When his father retired, he felt moved to do something about the lack of a library in his town of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

“He committed himself to getting one built in his town. A couple years before he died we were sitting talking about his life.” Morgan asked him what he thought his crowning deed was in a life of remarkable achievement and he answered, the library: “Because of its tangible impact on the community. That to him spelled something that was lasting and meaningful,” says Morgan.

He added that he thinks Schive gets a similar feeling, seeing, for example, children’s eyes grow wide while they watch her through the bakery’s viewing window. For these two former spy handlers, perhaps, the pleasure is all domestic.

Kate Oden is a writer and translator who lives in Hanover.