Blue Dog Bakery and Cafe: Louisville, KY

Opened by husband-and-wife team Kit Garrett and Bob Hancock in 1998, Blue Dog isn’t a rush in, rush out kind of bakery. It’s not a place so hoity-toity that you have to worry about wiping out an entire row of delicate puff pastry by breathing too heavily. Instead, Blue Dog is a spot that feels simultaneously nuanced and neighborly, as if you could easily become a regular (right down to your coffee order) after just a few visits. Stick around long enough, and you’ll not only make friends with the staff, but someone might even give you tips on how to whip up your favorite nectarine galette at home.

Located in Louisville’s Crescent Hills neighborhood, Blue Dog is a family operation in a neighborhood teeming with colorful camelback homes, stately oak trees, and plenty of strollers. But the area wasn’t always quite so lively.

“When we came to the street, there was only one other retail establishment at our end,” says Kit. “Over the last 18 years, the transformation has been incredible. There are now all sorts of great restaurants; the changes have been mind-boggling, actually.”

Two decades ago, Kit and Bob closed their restaurant in Spokane, Washington, and traveled the country learning the ins and outs of top-flight baking (most notably, Kit says, in California) at the tables and in the kitchens of dough-kneading experts. They then returned to their native Louisville, opening Blue Dog in what ended up being the ideal neighborhood—even if it didn’t seem like it at first.

Blue Dog is undoubtedly one of the pioneers of Louisville’s unfolding dining renaissance. Here, there’s a zealous local effort to capitalize on an ever-growing number of organic, small-scale farmers, and producers in the region.

But as the landscape has shifted, Blue Dog has proven to be a steady hand and ballast for eager eaters as they navigate this changing scene. Dinner options might ebb and flow, but neighbors know that the daylight hours were made for biting into a Blue Dog cookie crammed (like, really crammed) with chocolate chips or a slice of their slightly tangy cereal loaf freckled with sesame and flax seeds.

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