Idle Hands baker hands out free bread: 'It brings people happiness and that’s why I do it'

Posted at 10:45 AM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 10:52:10-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond bakery owner Jay Metzler is doing what he can to help people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Metzler, who owns Idle Hands Bread Company in The Fan, said he would give out free loaves of bread on Wednesdays and Thursdays for people no longer getting a full paycheck due to closures and lay-offs.

Metzler said when he decided to do this, he specifically thought about people in the service industry.

"A lot of people are hurting, and I love to bake bread," said Metzler. "I have eight employees. I’ve had to take them all down to three or less days a week. So while it's very scary for me and very present, it’s scary for lots of people in this business specifically."

Metzler first opened Idle Hands in Scott's Addition back in 2015 and has never been through something like this.

"You come into a bakery, you see empty cases -- it's a little jarring," he said.

Metzler said he relies on five full sales days to keep his business running smoothly, but the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic has made things difficult.

"This business is paycheck to paycheck. All those people are paycheck to paycheck. Like it's just how it is," Metzler said. "If I can give somebody a loaf of bread that lasts a few days, I want to do it."

Metzler said he's had to cut business days to Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday. But Wednesday and Thursday, will be a time to give back to those who have shown their support.

"Bread has always been something that brings people together -- and when we’re all supposed to stay apart it seems kind of weird."

Using his passion and abilities -- that's what he plans to do, even if just in spirit.

"It brings people happiness and that’s why I do it," Metzler said.

Metzler said he gave out about 70 loaves of bread on Wednesday, On Thursday he was prepared to give out about 100.

Idle Hands Bread Company will give out free loaves between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It is limited to one loaf per person.