Northshore Magazine

July 2012

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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ne Business enjoying it in a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere, has been marginalized, he adds. Flatbread Company extols the Flatbread experience—an organic blend of people, food, atmosphere, and always a sense of community. Good business, says Gould, comes down to something simple: "I figured out, finally, what the brand is," he says. "It is what you do, not what you say." The owners believe in pure food prepared and served in an open environment. Gould isn't into gimmicky attention-grabbing meth- ods to get people to try a flatbread, but he does believe both body and soul need to be nourished. "Consumers are a lot smarter than most businesses think they are," says Gould. "We don't have to tell them. We don't have to say anything." Instead, the Flatbread Company has to do something even more difficult—show them. The company with an environmentally friendly bent begins this task by inviting customers into a dining room with a wood- burning clay oven as the focal point. The dancing flames simultaneously mesmerize diners and cook flatbreads. Children often gather (at a safe distance) to watch the oven. There are no televisions at Flatbread (well, there is one in Canada, but only for hockey games), and menu covers feature artwork by customers. Tuesdays are des- ignated community nights, during which local groups hold benefits for organiza- tions (to which the company donates $3.50 from each flatbread sold) and long-term employees promote a sense of gathering, instead of just grabbing dinner. "From the start," Gould says, "we want- ed to be focused. I am a big believer in focus; it makes food good." The repetition of preparing a few items from simple recipes, he says, brings the food to a higher level. Flatbread Company keeps custom- ers happy with offerings like nitrate-free pepperoni-and-mushroom flatbread, or the onion-mushroom-Kalamata olive- and-garlic oil vegan flatbread. When the atmosphere and the menu come together and please customers, the effect is posi- tive. "We are trying to take cooking back to 76 nshoremag.com July 2012 Employee Hallie Thompson loads a flatbread Into the Fire into the oven. the way it was 100 years ago," says Gould of the prominent ovens. "Humans like to see fire. And fire is beautiful." The ovens are built by a team of volun- teers who begin with a stick basket, cover it with clay bricks, and dry it for several months. In use, each oven burns about a cord of wood every week, but the dining room is free of campfire haze because of the incredibly high temperatures. The Flatbread ovens work tirelessly, as all hot food in the restaurants (except for a small burner used to heat up fudge sauce) is cooked with wood. For things like caramelized onions, an enormous black cauldron sits over a fire cooking ingredients like a delicious brew. And all the restaurants, save for the Amesbury restaurant, have an open kitchen visible from the dining room, allowing diners to see their food as it is prepared. The open atmosphere reassures diners and buoys Flatbread employees. Adal- berto Gimenes, manager of the Amesbury location, says the openness changed his life. Arriving from Brazil and speaking no

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