There’s something delicious happening in Falls City (pop. 955), a former mill town tucked in the foothills of the Coast range just 25 miles southwest of Salem. Falls City is home to The Bread Board, an artisan bakery that has quickly earned a reputation for being worth the drive.
When owners John Volkmann and Keith Zinn relocated to Oregon from Sonoma County a few years ago, “We never intended to open a bakery,” Volkmann says. But then Zinn lost his job in 2008 and turned his attention the couple’s home wood-fired oven, where his talent shone. His naturally leavened, whole-grain loaves became coveted among friends.
This hobby soon led to The Bread Board in its current location (the building was the local logger bar for decades) where Zinn turns out everything from country sourdough and olive rosemary bread to sticky buns and scones in an enormous wood-fired oven. “It’s a truly artisan way of making bread. Everything is done by hand,” Volkmann says.
Pizza soon followed, as the two brainstormed how to stay open through the winter. “Keith went on what he calls his ‘pizza vision quest,’ Volkmann says, camping on Mt. Hood with a stack of recipes. “He came back and created the dough we use now.”
With the oven fired up to 750 degrees, the thin crust pizzas cook in minutes. “High temperatures and just the right type of dough are the magic of the pizzas,” Volkmann says. Diners have compared it to East Coast and Italian pizza, and some simply say it is the best pizza they’ve ever had.
On a summer afternoon, you can sit at a picnic table and enjoy Oregon craft beer or a glass of wine. You’re likely to find yourself in the company of friendly locals, mountain bikers fresh off nearby the Blackrock Mountain Bike Trail, day-trippers from Portland and travelers from all over the country who heard from a friend that they just had to stop at this great little bakery in a tiny Oregon town. “That’s the way people think about our bakery: It’s really beautiful, the food is incredible and it is out of the way,” Volkmann says.
The Bread Board is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday in summer, with lunch available from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. and wood-fired pizzas after 4 p.m.