One of the nation’s most celebrated bakeries is situated in a restored, 1921 filling station in the heart of Old Town Warrenton. With its 1954 red pickup truck perched on the corner near the county courthouse, enticing aromas greet passersby on Main Street. The red truck is an eye-catcher, along with the bakery’s iconic logo, but all folks really need to do to find the Red Truck Bakery is to follow their noses.
Inside the bakery, the kitchen crew is filling the oven with seasonal pies, Shenandoah apple cakes, and other concoctions. Specialties include a Virginia moonshine cake made with local hooch and a rum cake that won the top food award from Southern Living magazine. Bourbon cakes, amaretto cakes, even Guinness Stout Irish chocolate cakes are beckoning – and could be the reason that Garden & Gun magazine called the place “the bakery with a drinking problem.”
Gathered around the large, communal table are judges, lawyers, and office workers enjoying what Virginia Living calls the best coffee on the East Coast. Cyclists and hikers headed to the Blue Ridge Mountains stop in to grab some sandwiches and a bag of the bakery’s heralded granola, which TV food host Andrew Zimmern says is the best in North America (although Roadfood says it’s the best in the universe).
“I looooove me some Red Truck sweet potato pie.”Oprah Winfrey
Brian Noyes is the Red Truck Bakery’s founder, proprietor, and baker-in-chief. He has enjoyed an award-winning career as the art director of The Washington Post, Smithsonian, Preservation, and Architecture magazines while living in an 1850s farmhouse in the Fauquier County village of Orlean. He trained at the Culinary Institute of America (the other CIA) and at King Arthur Flour in Vermont. While working for national publications during the week, he baked at his farmhouse on weekends selling pies, breads, muffins, and cakes at a nearby country store out of the old red truck he bought from Tommy Hilfiger. The New York Times food writer Marian Burros enjoyed some of his baking at a nearby picnic and wrote about Noyes on the front page of the New York Times food section. Noyes’s fledgling website went from two dozen hits to 57,000 in one day. He realized that if he was ever going to leave a publishing career to launch a bakery, it was the time.
The Red Truck Bakery now ships thousands of items nationwide each year. There is a staff of 50 employees in two locations. The second location was opened recently in a renovated 1915 pharmacy and Masonic lodge. It serves as the main headquarters in the village of Marshall, 20 minutes north of Warrenton.
President Barack Obama saluted the Red Truck Bakery’s success in a lengthy White House website posting. Still a big fan of the bakery’s pies, Obama wrote the back cover blurb for the Red Truck Bakery Cookbook, published in 2018 by Clarkson Potter/Penguin Random House. Noyes and the Red Truck Bakery were honored to cook an all-pie meal at the James Beard House in New York in March 2020, but he says his greatest achievement was being named the Grand Marshall of the Warrenton Christmas Parade.
By Elizabeth Denham