Tiffany MacIsaac is settling down in Shaw. The former executive pastry chef at Neighborhood Restaurant Group has signed a lease to open a storefront for her Buttercream Bakeshop at 1250 Ninth St. NW.
After leaving Neighborhood Restaurant Group last year, MacIsaac launched Buttercream as a solo venture, focusing on pop-up events and custom cakes. A permanent location was always her goal.
"It took eight months, but it was totally worth it," MacIsaac said.
She said she wanted the bakery to be somewhere with a "neighborhood feel" that would also attract diners from area businesses. She's happy to be near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center as well around the corner from Long View Gallery, a popular venue for the couples ordering her wedding cakes.
"To be honest, it was the first place I looked at," MacIsaac said, admitting she was worried she'd get her hopes up only to have them dashed. "A very wise man told me, 'Don't fall in love with the location. Fall in love with the idea of the project.'"
Buttercream is going into the Colonel, a new-construction apartment community named after Civil War colonel Robert Gould Shaw. That means MacIsaac is starting the facility from scratch, an advantage but also one reason the opening won't be happening for some time. The shop will be on the ground level and a large kitchen will occupy the basement. The additional production space means MacIsaac can further expand her wedding cake business, and she's brought on her former Buzz Bakery sous chef, Alexandra Mudry, to help with those orders.
In the shop portion, MacIsaac envisions a farm table, some bar-style seating along the wall and a few benches outside. She's already working on a design with Edit Lab at Streetsense.
"The feel of it is kind of playful and modern," she said. The interior will be "really clean, all about the food."
And what about the food? Expect to see some old favorites, such as MacIsaac's oatmeal cream pies and her sticky buns, a staple on the brunch menu at Birch & Barley, where her husband, Kyle Bailey, is still executive chef. There will be "American throwback things," including a take on the classic Ho Ho, as well as French-inspired goodies such as canelés and kouign-amann, the layered Breton pastry that's been catching on lately.
"I've always had a pretty strong idea of what I wanted to do, which was a little bit of everything," MacIsaac said. "I have a little bit of kitchen ADD."
Buttercream's menu will change throughout the day. Breakfast will feature scones, croissants, biscuit sandwiches and those sticky buns before transitioning into lunch, which may include soft pretzel hot pockets, sandwiches on house-baked bread and a rotating selection of salads. Sweets and coffee will be available all day. The tentative schedule is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, but that's subject to change.
Just thinking about schedules, funding, landlords and lawyers is a new experience for MacIsaac, who on previous projects worked with the support of Neighborhood Restaurant Group.
"It's flexing a totally different part of my brain," MacIsaac said. "I'm learning so much from it. It’s a steep learning curve."