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3rd Street Market
What: A soup and sourdough bread cafe with a market of local produce, wine and beer
Company Founded: Opened October 2022
Number of employees: Seven
Founders: Trent and Dena Shaskan
Address: 425 W. 3rd St., Fort Worth
Fort Worth Report spoke with Trent Shaskan about the business. This interview has been edited for content, grammar and clarity.
Seth Bodine: How did 3rd Street Market come to be?
Trent Shaskan: My wife, Dena Shaskan was the chef at The Modern for 12-15 years. Then, in 2015, we bought a catering company in Southlake, lived here in Fort Worth. But that led to me doing bread. I’m originally from San Francisco — it’s time to learn sourdough and recapture the tastes of my childhood. And it coincided with the opening of Clear Fork Farmers Market. And so then we did Clear Fork for 10 years. And within that time span, we also opened The Table, which is a little Texas local grocery store, vendor-driven.
And then one thing led to another. Some Sundance folks, Sasha Bass, said, ‘Hey, I got a space for you, come take a look.’ And the rest is history. We looked at this space, it was an old bar space and we turned the liquor bar into a bread bar. A big, 8,000-square foot-space, lots of light.
We also have a teaching space with a partner from The Table … who’s offering classes and afternoon tea. It’s a very organic process. Consistency is everything and just showing up. It’s a Woody Allen line. Nine-tenths of success is just showing up. We just showed up at the farmers market for years and that’s just a great way to meet people and test products.
Bodine: Selling bread?
Shaskan: Yep. Started in front of Stir Crazy on Magnolia Street. We were happy if we sold 15 loaves back in the day. But it’s really exploded and blossomed.
Bodine: How did you start learning how to make bread and find your own original recipes?
Shaskan: The best answer is, it’s like the movie “Ratatouille” where he tastes something in his childhood, caves in on him very much like that or rushes in. I was going back and forth to San Francisco to visit family forever and really missing the bread and just again a coincidence. So I started following that recipe and chasing the tastes that I grew up with. That was the key. It took two years of struggle and emotional turmoil. Because it’s hard, it’s hard to capture it.
Bodine: What’s new about this place?
Shaskan: I think what’s new is the old. That I’m still sitting here at a counter, at a table talking to people about bread. But you can have a sandwich also and you can watch the bread being made.
Bodine: So how did you find initial financing when you were starting up?
Shaskan: I mentioned that we had a catering company, and I think this is also a neat thing for small businesses to think about. That you probably need some alternative form at the beginning to cover expenses. And we had the catering — we were doing big catering all over the Metroplex. My wife was a big known chef, so we have lots of contracts that way, and it just allowed me to kind of sneak in. I think a lot of food vendors, food people have a hard time finding a kitchen in order to operate. Funding, that’s hard. It’s very difficult.
Bodine: Do you have any tips for food entrepreneurs who are starting up?
Shaskan: Marry a chef. It’s not a tip, it’s sort of ridiculous, isn’t it? It’s impossible. But I think there’s something important there: partnerships. Get inside of a kitchen.
Consistency, get involved in a farmers market, get to know people and be there every time. I think we find that vendors will have a great idea and a great product and they get kind of bummed out because they’re not making as much money as they want to up front. So they quit or they only have part time. And that’s impossible. Even if you only sell 20 of something. The point is, people know you’re there and they’ll be there every weekend and they’ll come because they know you’re there. The minute you’re not there, they come up, they see you’re not there and then after a few times, they will just stop coming. So I can’t express that enough: consistency.
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.