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Sister and brother bakers share secret to Sub Rosa’s success

Posted at 10:55 PM, Feb 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 22:02:24-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The name is synonymous with secrecy, but word is spreading about Sub Rosa. The bakery at 25th and Jefferson is fast becoming a landmark beyond Church Hill.

Tempting tarts and fresh flatbreads draw in hungry customers from far and wide.

Bakers Evrim and Evin Dogu opened Sub Rosa in 2012.

“Once we found this perfect spot, on many levels, it was really real," Evrim said.

In six years, the siblings and their custom brick oven have attracted national attention.

Sub Rosa is contending for a James Beard Award. Which is akin to an Oscar in the food industry.

“That makes us want to keep going and doing what we do and doing it better," Evrim said.

Evin and Evrim Dogu

No loafing here.

The days are long.

The work grueling.

Especially in the early days.

"You start to get muscles doing this," Evrim said. “There was not time that we left really. We would just go upstairs to sleep.”

But the Dogus never let the flour covered routine weigh them down.

“We call it bakery sitting,” Evin said.

The siblings are children of Turkish immigrants.

They grew up in the food industry.

Their father owned a handful of pizza restaurants near Washington, D.C.

Evrim began by selling his artisan breads at farmer’s markets.

Evin learned pastry making from scratch.

The Dogus secret is knead natural ingredients with lots of passion.

“When you’re in the trenches together you get along because you have to. And we naturally get along too,” Evrim said.

The brother and sister may be rising to the top, but their journey has been anything but a cakewalk.

Five years ago on April 3, 2013 their phones rang in the middle of the night. Their bakery was burning.

“It was a tenant of ours who said the building is on fire. That is the only thing and hung up. And I just leaped out of bed,” Evrim said. "I got here and saw everyone lined up watching. Everyone was out."

A discarded cigarette ignited the building.

"I just remember running to the firefighters and asking if everyone was OK,” Evin said.

The Dogus business was going up in smoke and watered down.

“We come in and see the oven which is a symbol of fire and hearth. Has water dripping on it as if its raining inside. That is surreal.”

Damages topped more than $400,000, but not once did the Dogus consider walking away.

“We get so in that cycle I couldn’t imagine not being open somehow,” Evin said.

Customers and other business owners rallied raising nearly $30,000 toward repairs.

“There is a sense of community and sense of family. You see the difference between the two,” Evrim said. “Makes it vibrant. Makes you want to stay here.”

Nine months removed from the fire Evin and Evrim reopened much to the delight of their growing clientele.

"When we reopened we had a line out the door," Evin recalled. "It is very satisfying."

Evin and Evrim share a bond thicker than dough. They’ve been building on their reputation while baking a legacy.

Despite the recognition and nomination they remain humble. These siblings are only letting their success go to their bread.

“That makes us want to keep going and doing what we do and doing it better,” Evrim said.

The dynamic duo reached the semi final round in one of 21 restaurant and chef categories.

The semi-finalists will be judged by 600 culinary experts nationwide.

The James Beard Foundation will announce the finalists on March 14.

Two other Richmonders were nominated as well.

Chef Brittany Anderson, co-owner of Brenner Pass and An Bui owner of Mekong.

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