What’s behind the Red Door

by Gail Falk

Reprinted from Plainfield Co-op Newsletter: Winter 2022

The door

Well, actually, the door isn’t red.

The door to the former site of the bakery in downtown Marshfield was red, recalls Dave Mangan, owner of Red Door Bakery that produces the luscious pies, bars, cookies and breads that have been a Plainfield Co-op staple for years.

Mangan says the red door on the bakery logo symbolizes the simple old-fashioned values he sees as the essence of the company. All baked goods are made from scratch using local products, such as Cabot butter and King Arthur flour. Although not organic, the products are “clean,” he says – “no additives, no ingredients that that my mom or your grandmother would not have had in the kitchen.” The company keeps the batches small, rolling out pie crusts by hand and baking bread and pies four days a week so the food can go out absolutely fresh. “It’s a balance,” Mangan says, “to keep it simple and local and fresh and affordable and still make a living.”

Wild Blueberry Pie

All the company’s owners and employees are family members, descendants or spouses of the bakery’s founder, Denise Mangan, who bought the Marshfield Café in 1993. The café was popular during the summer months, but business waned in the winter. When he graduated from high school, Denise’s son David worked with his mother to move the business to the basement of a nearby building in Marshfield big enough for a small commercial kitchen. By 1999, the Mangan family had closed the café, and the business became Red Door Bakery, LLC, a wholesale bakery that made and delivered breads and pies to stores in Central Vermont.

In 2007 the bakery purchased the recipes, equipment and trade name of Halleluia Bakery, which had been part of a commune in Walden that closed. When Red Door started making Halleluia’s popular cookies and bars, such as zebra bars and Yes! Bars, the business quickly outgrew its basement location. After struggling for years with the logistics of moving supplies and products up and down a three-level basement, Red Door moved to its present headquarters in a spacious single floor building with ample parking on Beaver Meadow Road, west of Marshfield village. 

Mangan says the bakery puts about 50,000 miles a year on their van delivering baked goods to stores in a region bounded by Woodstock to the southeast and Georgia to the northwest. The bakery’s biggest customers are the large co-ops in Middlebury, Burlington, and White River Junction. Apple pies are consistently the most popular product, but 7-layer Yes! Bars and chewy chocolate chip cookies are also big sellers.

Mangan’s son designed a professional-looking website for the company, and they now sell baked products online. The website features a photo of Red Door’s float in the Cabot Fourth of July parade, decorated with explicitly religious messages interspersed with American flags. When asked about this choice of a photo, Mangan says he picked the photo to highlight community participation. “Lord Jesus has held our family together,” he adds, but the goal of the business is not to promote religion. “We’re a family-owned and operated business. Being a bakery is what we do,” he says.

Mangan is aware of the Plainfield Co-op’s struggles. “I see them crowded and bursting at the seams like we were [before moving to the new space]. I hope they can make it,” he says. ❖

Photo credits: Gail Falk

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