“It was getting to be crunch time, with Brian making the career change, the mortgage, lots of yardwork and cleaning,” McNeill says. They bought the ’38 rowhouse nearby, and McNeill staged a 12-day makeover.
McNeill, a native of Sanford, N.C., and Noyes, from Monterey, Calif., are collectors of Southern pottery and folk art. For years, the two had acquired treasures from trips to artists’ studios in the South and the outdoor antiques show in Brimfield, Mass.
They had so much stuff that, when they moved, McNeill decided to unload some on eBay. Out went the hula dolls, Robert Venturi plates, punk-rock magazines and World’s Fair memorabilia. “We were collectors, not hoarders,” McNeill says. “But we wanted less stuff.”
Now, their curated treasures migrate between city and country. “Our life,” Noyes says, “is sort of an ever-changing exhibit.”
The bakery in Warrenton
The namesake vintage Ford is parked as eye candy in front of Red Truck Bakery in historic Old Town Warrenton.
The old Esso station fit Noyes’s criteria for a space in which to create an old-fashioned mercantile.
McNeill transformed the interior to reflect its industrial past while adding nostalgia. “Dwight created a warm, homey feeling in here,” Noyes says.
There are three areas. The original Esso office remains the sales room, with an apothecary flavor inspired by a 1930s ruralpharmacy. The two car repair bays has been turned into an open kitchen and a dining area with a large table.
McNeill did the floors in buff and white alternating 12-inch tiles. He installed bead board, molding and built-in shelves to hold Red Truck products.
Noyes found a close-out sale on West Elm stacking chairs in the cherry red shade of the truck. McNeill chose aluminum Ikea pendant lights to hang over the communal table. The frosted white glass schoolhouse lights above the bakery case come from Rejuvenation in Portland, Ore.
Opening day was July 31, 2009. The finished bakery “exudes quirky charm with its communal table and country-contemporary look,” wrote Washingtonian magazine.
The first 18 months haven’t been easy because of the recession, plus the three major snowstorms of last winter and the icy days around this year’s “thundersnow.” But Noyes and his staff of 14 keep churning out rum cupcakes, focaccia, ham scones and gourmet blueberry granola six days a week. The Red Truck line now even includes root beer, bottled water and peanuts.
On a typical day, county judges, fox hunters and maybe actor Robert Duvall will be sipping Red Truck coffee at the 12-foot table made of beams salvaged from a 19th-century Virginia barn. The coffee comes in three strengths: Premium, Hi-Octane and Unleaded.