Mr. Holmes Bakehouse: Paving a Pastry Empire

By Sharmin Shanur and Elyse Joseph

John, Betty and Jan were first in line at the grand opening of Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in Tustin’s District last Saturday. They arrived at around 7 a.m. that day, a full hour before the scheduled beginning of the event. They had heard about the opening from the OC Register, friends, Instagram and word of mouth. About an hour and fifteen minutes later, John, Betty and Jan finally approached the counter and began selecting their first taste of Holmes Bakehouse bread. John, in particular, was excited about Mr. Holmes’ breakfast cookie. “A cookie for breakfast? I mean, come on!”

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse is a trendy new bakery in metropolitan California. With well-publicized bakeries in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Mr. Holmes has gained a reputation amongst the top bakery destinations. Unlike many bakery stores, Mr. Holmes’ presentation is minimalist when it comes to its store’s ambiance. All of its locations have plain white countertops with gray walls — nothing more. No other colors clad their store. Its Tustin location is no different. Although they are in a more communal environment at the District’s Union Market, as opposed to the locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Mr. Holmes has been able to keep its trendy identity and differentiate itself from its competitors.

Jed Cartojano from Daily Food Feed on Instagram, who works with Mr. Holmes’ marketing, noted that the Tustin location  “is particularly different [than the other Mr. Holmes stores] because, they are not actually baking here. They are … fresh baked and brought in from LA twice a day … This is also surrounded by many other supermarkets. This is not a singular location like the other bakeries.”

The line to the store on opening day wrapped around two sides of the Union Market at its peak. Jay, who arrived half an hour before the opening, remarked, “If you want to get a good spot, you gotta get up early.” Emily and Monica arrived around 8:30. However, when they saw the line, they decided they did not want to wait. “We live close, so we’ll come back,” they said. Monica told Emily about the bakehouse, and Emily in turn checked Instagram, finding her own interest in the cruffins. The barista at Milkbox across the aisle told them, “Just give it a week.”

Orange County may not be as hip and cosmopolitan as Los Angeles and San Francisco, but Jed noted that Mr. Holmes believes that “OC is an attractive market to be in … and a good place to be … [with] their bakery in LA … they are trying to find a couple different locations in Southern California.”

Although their baked goods are not baked at their Tustin location, the pastries are just as good as their sister location. The matcha croissant, for example, is a delicious fusion of French and Japanese cuisine, both flaky and perfectly sweetened.  As Karen bit into her croissant, she could not help but sigh. “That is amazing! Their cruffin, which is what they are known for, is amazing … And their laminated doughs … [like] their croissants, are nice, crispy, and delicious!” On the other hand, their matcha donut was a miss, as the taste of the soft dough bore the taste that beer takes on after the yeast does its work, and the cream didn’t complement that taste.

Still, Mr. Holmes has a special place in Karen’s heart, because they are “totally different. They are hipper. But at the same time … [Mr. Holmes is] not afraid to be different with their pastries. There are not just croissants or matcha. There are [also] ube pop tarts … Everything changes, and they are always coming up with new flavors each week.”

Mr. Holmes is now available to those who are looking for tasty pastries in Tustin.