The east side has gotten a little sweeter with the opening of 12th Street Bakery. This quaint new food trailer offers everything from classic cookies to delightfully crafted pastries at prices that won't hurt your wallet. But 12th Street serves up more than just treats. The bakery also acts as a job-training opportunity for young adults in East Austin.
"The main goal is to provide full-time, living-wage jobs for people in the neighborhood," says Samantha Herod, owner and mastermind behind the bakery.
Herod is focusing on at-risk youth, offering them the opportunity to work at 12th Street Bakery and learn a marketable skill set that can be applied to a variety of jobs. The target employment group is 18- to 25-year-olds living in the surrounding neighborhood who typically don't have access to what few jobs are available.
In a departure from traditional work expectations, Herod is actually hoping for a high turnover rate: This employer wants her employees to get on board, learn new skills, and then use those skills to get hired at a more sustainable position.
"Working in the food industry can be such an uplifting job, and it gives you a really marketable skill. You can always find a job," explains Herod.
Herod is an experienced baker that comes by way of Baguette et Chocolat, Thai Fresh, and Baked by Amy's. The native Texan got the idea for her bakery while working with at-risk youth during a mission program in Chicago. There she saw a real need for jobs in the area and it's been her dream ever since to provide a work outlet in an area that needed it — like East Austin.
"It's one of the most diverse areas of Austin, but notoriously known for being low income and having at-risk youths in the area and no businesses to help lift people out of poverty," says Herod.
Herod has partnered with Mission: Possible! Austin, a faith-based nonprofit that has been serving underprivileged children and homeless in the area for over two decades. Thanks in part to Mission: Possible — who invested in 12th Street Bakery and helped outfit the trailer — and a successful Kickstarter campaign, Herod's dream has taken off. The bakery was the first addition to a new food-trailer park owned by Mission: Possible at the intersection of 12th and Chicon streets, which also houses Elixer Coffee and Emojis Grilled Cheese.
According to Herod, this is just the beginning for this blossoming neighborhood center. Mission: Possible has a bevy of community events in the works for the trailer park, such as children's story times and movie screenings.
"If you know the history of 12th and Chicon, it used to be known for being pretty violent and having a lot of drug and sex trafficking," says Herod. "But the space is changing. It's becoming a center for the community, and I want to be on the ground floor of this change."
Herod is looking to hire her first employee by the end of the month. The 12th Street Bakery food trailer is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8 am until supplies are sold out. The delicious s'more-like Dude Bar is Herod's must-try item on the menu, but cinnamon rolls on the weekends have proven to be a crowd favorite.