By Nancy Tannler
1100 SE Division St
Open 7 days 11 am – 7 pm
Coming full cycle Mark Eklund and his wife Lenore made their way back to the northwest three years ago with an idea to spend the next segment of their working career doing something different. Three weeks ago The Baker’s Mark opened at 12th & SE Division serving artisan submarine sandwiches.
Mark was raised in Wilsonville and left in his twenties to work in the LA film industry where he was a staff member of the popular show Family Guy. This is where he met his wife, who is from Cleveland.
Since his family is spread between Wilsonville and Seattle, they decided Portland was a good location to begin again. They moved here and started doing odd jobs while they waited for a good space to open up, build the furnishings and to perfect the bread recipe. In that time they added another member to the family, their daughter Charlee.
Eklund loved to bake and spent time as a child in the kitchen with his mother. He continued this as a hobby in LA, focusing on making bread.
“I would often bring my biggas (yeast starters) to work on the bus to keep them at the right temperature during the day,” he said. This definitely raised a few eyebrows as he commuted with the bigga bowl in his lap.
He learned about the subtleties of bread baking and when they decided upon their menu of fresh baked sub loaves he knew how to make what he wanted.
“The ingredients are simple; water, flour, salt and yeast,” Eklund said, “but the beauty of my recipe is that it sleeps overnight in the refrigerator so it can be baked in batches throughout the following day.”
As well as the delicious flavor and smell of freshly baked bread is, the fermenting process makes the wheat easier to digest. This process starts to break down the complex carbohydrate so the body can absorb nutrients easier.
There’s a few things to know about wheat grown in America Eklund explained. It’s very resilient and tough, much more so than wheat raised in Europe. So when he was looking to purchase his dough mixer he had to get one made for American wheat because other brands weren’t strong enough to blend the ingredients. They make gluten free bread every morning too. The Baker’s Mark uses The Shepherd’s Grain wheat all grown here in the northwest.
The sandwiches were inspired by Mark’s nostalgic experience of eating Wilsonville Hoagies as a kid. There’s cold and hot sandwiches available and a few sides. Cold specials include: The Godfather, made with Genoa salami, Mortadella, hot capocollo, ham, prosciutto, and provolone.
All sandwiches are served with a choice of three different house made mustards (yellow,Dijon or spicy brown) and the works; lettuce, tomatoes, onion, Moon Brine dill pickle, Italian dressing hot or mild pepper salad. They make a vegetarian and a vegan sub, made with avocado and chickpeas.
Several hot sandwich choices include favorites like: Pastrami, meatball and French dip. They keep two beers on tap from the Deschutes brewery and a selection of other beverages.
By keeping the sandwich menu straightforward, they are able to keep prices affordable. Most of the artisan sub-sandwiches run around $8.
The new complex that houses The Baker’s Mark is just being completed. While they were waiting to open, Mark and other family members were busy building all the benches, stools, booths, and counters.
All the wood parts were made from repurposed oak pallets that ironically, had a stamp on them indicating they were used for transporting wheat. The Baker’s Mark has an industrial chic atmosphere with very comfortable hand-hewn stools. The white tile used in the kitchen is from Pratt & Larson and Mark mentioned that without The Southeast Portland Tool Library (SEPTL) the task would have been way more difficult to complete.
The family came together to help build the Eklund’s new restaurant and it will continue as a family run business one day at a time feeding the community, making new friends and all the while, raising their next generation.