Lincoln’s Potato Hill Bakery rises through its first year

LINCOLN — A new company has sprung up in Lincoln this year that makes delicious bread.
Potato Hill Bakery, featuring homemade loaves by Lincoln native Johnny Johnson, has done well since its opening in July, distributing its products to the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op, Almost Home Market in Bristol, the Lincoln General Store and the Jerusalem Country Store.
Johnson’s bakery is located in the yard of the Robinson Road home where he was raised by his parents, Meredith and Jonathan Johnson Sr. He made the commercial-grade, wood-fired oven that he uses for baking the loaves by hand, years ago as a project for his homeschooling.
“I used to work a lot with Mom in the kitchen, all the way up through my childhood,” Johnson said. “I was homeschooled, so we did a lot of stuff together in the kitchen. My mom always had an interest in bread.”
As a teenager, Johnson took a job as a dishwasher at Almost Home Market in Bristol, where he became inspired by baking as a profession.
“The baker that was there really took a shine to me,” Johnson said. “She had me start doing a lot of her prep work, and it was, slowly, kind of like an apprenticeship.”
Johnson worked with the baker for two-and-half years. When she left, Johnson took up the helm. He liked the creativity of baking and the interaction with customers.
“The whole time I was learning so much. I still am. But I learned a bunch working there,” he said.
It wasn’t long after that Johnson decided that being a baker was what he wanted to do full time. “I had always wanted to go into forestry,” Johnson said. “Working down (at Almost Home) changed my mind.”
But the seed of having his own business had been planted.
“My family puts really high values on running your own businesses,” Johnson said. “My dad is very entrepreneurial and he’s encouraged us right up through to be entrepreneurial.”
Perhaps the only thing that doesn’t come naturally to Johnson when it comes to running Potato Hill Bakery is keeping a baker’s hours. He wakes up at 1 a.m., and finishes baking when most people are just rising. During farmers’ market season, he goes straight to the markets from the bakery — and confesses that he has pulled over to take a nap every now and then. In the winter, he goes on his delivery rounds.
Business is going well for Johnson, who frequently experiments with recipes and has his own sourdough culture from wild yeast. While eventually he hopes to expand his bakery to a retail storefront, for now Johnson is enjoying how well Potato Hill has done in its first six months.
“It’s really been an amazing experience,” he said.

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