A Charlottesville bakery that attracted a passionate loyal following and the high praise of an internationally acclaimed chef will be closing by year’s end.
“This is one of those dreaded posts that you hate to see,” Bowerbird Bakeshop owner Earl Vallery posted on Instagram on Oct. 31. “I’m here to let you know that Bowerbird will be closing.”
Vallery, who debuted the Bowerbird concept at the Charlottesville City Market in late 2017, said Bowerbird’s last day will be Dec. 16.
Vallery said the decision to close was not because sales were down.
“The business is doing well and has always done well since our inception,” Vallery said in his post. “I believe in the seasonality of life and this feels like a good, positive change.”
Vallery noted that after 20 years in the pastry world and six years running Bowerbird, he now has a family with two young children.
“I want to celebrate those things with them,” he said.
Vallery also noted the strain of signing a lease before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bowerbird moved into the Tenth Street Warehouses off West Main Street in 2020, moving from a rented kitchen at Trinity Episcopal Church’s Bread & Roses space.
“Signing a lease in January 2020 and opening and running a shop during the pandemic was a huge source of stress and anxiety for me on many different levels,” he said.
Asked what would happen to Bowerbird’s current staff and where the bakery’s fans might find him next, Vallery declined to answer.
“I feel pretty content with my IG post,” Vallery told The Daily Progress in an email.
Bowerbird was known for its variety of baked goods — chai snickerdoodles, Thai tea tres leches, Orange hibiscus muffins — as well as seasonal treats — colorful Mother’s Day macarons, Halloween “spoopy galettes” with apple skulls and Mardi Gras king cakes.
On a 2021 visit to Charlottesville, world-renowned chef José Andrés praised the “amazing zaatar croissants at Bowerbird” in a Twitter post. The Washington, D.C.-based Andrés is the owner of restaurants around the world and is the winner of multiple James Beard Awards.
The Bowerbird space at Tenth Street Warehouses will not be vacant long, according to Jenny Stoner, a commercial sales leasing associate with Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer’s brokerage team in Charlottesville.
“There is actually a tenant that we’re working on a lease with at the moment,” Stoner, who handles leasing at Tenth Street Warehouses, told The Daily Progress Tuesday. “I’m not at liberty to say who yet.”
She echoed Vallery’s Instagram post, wishing the Bowerbird team well as they head into their next “season.”
“Bowerbird is beloved at Tenth Street Warehouses,” she said. “They’ve done a phenomenal job there. We’re sad to see them go, but that’s just the seasons of life.”
Bowerbird’s former neighbor at Tenth Street Warehouses, Peloton Station closed at the end of last year. The bar and grill said in a statement at the time that it did not have the capital to extend its lease at the space. After nearly a year sitting vacant, Stoner said that popular Miami-inspired eatery Guajiros would be moving into the real estate, moving from its current location further east along Main Street.
Guajiros announced Tuesday it would be closing down its West Main operations by the end of the year but have its new space open at Tenth Street Warehouses before then.
Bowerbird plans to keep normal operating hours until it closes its doors next month: 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.