Rising to The Occasion

Discovery Fresh Artisanal Breads, Pastries and Delights at The Bakery on Mason

There’s something magical in the Bay breeze along the 200 block of Mason Avenue in beautiful Cape Charles. Besides the quintessential sounds of gulls, friendly hellos from passersby, and the laughter of kids riding bicycles, there’s an incredible aroma of freshly baked bread. It’s utterly irresistible. And it’s coming from The Bakery on Mason, a truly artisanal bakery that lovingly crafts all manner of breads, pastries, sandwiches and desserts.

Proprietors Louise Orlando and Andrew Barbour have traveled a long road to create this unique and delicious experience here in our little waterfront town. When the couple moved here from San Francisco almost 20 years ago, they quickly fell in love with the lifestyle of Cape Charles, a then undiscovered gem on the Eastern Shore.

“We moved here to be closer to family,” says Louise and “we wanted our kids to know where their food came from,”. Their home on the Eastern Shore has allowed them to realize this and much more.

Not long after settling in Cape Charles, Louise’s longing for the “good bread” they had enjoyed in San Francisco converged with her passion for baking, and soon, she was making and selling her own bread. Her home bread baking business sold (and sold out) at local farmers’ markets and restaurants all over the region. Louise and Andrew knew they were ready to expand. Now, they have grown into one of the most popular culinary destinations in town with a charming storefront at 236 Mason Avenue.

They make everything, start to finish, from scratch. “All of our croissants, the pastry, the danish…we’re mixing and rolling out the dough,” says Louise. “We’re doing everything ourselves, and I think our customers can tell.”

They have their tried-and-true favorites (Louise’s sourdough is, indeed, legendary), and they always offer a little something new and different, too. Seeded whole grain bread, French baguettes, focaccia, cinnamon swirl loaves, scones, and muffins are just the beginning.

As their customers enjoy the ‘homegrown’ story behind Louise’s artisanal breads, so, too, she and Andrew love getting to know the people who frequent their bakery. “We have loved meeting the people who are coming into our shop. Everyone has a story,” says Louise. “Our first summer, we had a lot of customers coming in by boat. There was a French family that had sailed from Europe,” she says. “And the people who live here, they’re all so interesting and enjoyable. We love it.”

Their customers appreciate that they’re making everything fresh onsite. The bakery itself is designed so customers can see everything that goes into the bread-making process. Still, there are certain unseen touches of magic that make their breads worth lining up around the block for—as folks often do. Louise’s sourdough breads, for example, are all made from an Eastern Shore starter of wild yeast that she has nurtured for more than a decade. It’s that special touch you can’t get anywhere except The Bakery on Mason.

It’s no wonder the bakery is teeming with patrons. “Mornings, we usually have a line,” says Louise. A recent morning saw a steady stream of customers for two hours. Louise and Andrew appreciate their customers’ loyalty. “People are discovering that ‘we’re the real deal’ as one customer put it,” says Louise. “And I appreciate that. It makes me feel good that people enjoy what we do.”

Assisting Louise and Andrew during the busy Cape Charles summer is an energetic team of creative and capable high school and college students. It’s an incredible immersive learning opportunity for the students, and a much-needed help for the bustling bakery. Soon, their summer staff will return to school and the bakery will go back to their fall Saturday and Sunday hours.

If you’re headed to The Bakery on Mason, be prepared to be amazed at the variety. With so many incredible treats to choose from, it’s hard to settle on a favorite, especially for Louise. What is she loving right now? “I love the sourdough bread and the baguettes…the sourdough started everything,” she laughs. “For pastry, the cruffin is my favorite right now,” she adds.

What’s a cruffin? Well, besides divine, it’s the pastry dough they use for their croissants and pain au chocolat, shaped into a muffin tin and baked. “It bakes up tall,” says Louise. “…and I’ve been filling them with passion fruit or raspberry or lemon.”

“We’ve been playing around with different shortbread flavors, too: peanut butter chocolate striped shortbread, lemon, vanilla and coffee shortbreads,” she adds. When sweet isn’t your current mood, you’ll want to try one of the bakery’s savory sandwiches. “We make all our baguette sandwiches fresh from scratch when you order them. All meats are sliced in-house and our tomatoes and basil are from our farm,” Louise explains. “Andrew has come up with all the ingredients and flavors for the sandwiches.”

The ‘Cape Charles,’ sandwich, for example, is shaved Edward’s country ham on a crusty baguette, with parmesan and asiago cheese, arugula, and
the bakery’s spicy house dressing. And, yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds.

You never know what you might find at The Bakery on Mason, and that’s part of the fun. “We’ve recently added Basque cheesecake. It’s a rich, creamy, crustless cheesecake and it’s one of my favorite things,” smiles Louise. “We put it out and, immediately, it’s gone!”

And speaking of ‘gone,’ here’s a pro-tip: If you’re coming into town or have a special occasion, Louise recommends pre-ordering from their website to ensure they have what you want when you arrive. It’s all part of their passion for sharing great baking with everyone who visits them.

Bon Appetit!

The Bakery on Mason
236 Mason Avenue

TOLL-FREE 844.620.2900

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