If the suns seems to be shining a little brighter in Guerneville Thursday it’s because Main Street’s fashionable Big Bottom Market is basking in a spotlight most entrepreneurs can only dream of having directed their way.
A packaged mix that allows home bakers to whip up the same signature biscuits served daily at the specialty food store has earned the praise of lifestyle guru Oprah Winfrey, who has selected the product for her annual Favorite Things List this year.
The holiday shopping guide, released Thursday by O, The Oprah Magazine, lauds the buttery biscuits for their taste and texture, and the fact you’d never know they’re not completely from scratch, to which the product’s fans can attest.
“Biscuits and I go way back,” Winfrey says in her notes on the Big Bottom product, a gift box containing the mix and locally sourced, organic orange-blossom honey. “These bake up moist yet crumbly, taste homemade though they’re from a mix, and are heavenly served with this honey.”
Baked from a closely guarded family recipe passed down from Big Bottom Market co-owner Crista Luedtke’s Grandma Steiner, the biscuits already are in demand where they are sold.
But Winfrey’s imprimatur means big things for Big Bottom, which already has its biscuits in four New York City restaurants and sells them takeout, topped with sweet and savory combinations, at the summertime Big Bottom Biscuit Bar at Osteria Cotta on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
In addition to inclusion in O’s new 104 holiday favorites, the biscuit mix made USA Today’s 10 “must-haves” from Winfrey’s selections.
It also is scheduled to be highlighted on TV episodes of “Entertainment Weekly” and “Extra” broadcasts Thursday night, said Michael Volpatt, another of the market’s three partners, who was in New York when the list went public.
“Feeling amazing,” Volpatt said via email. “Absolutely stoked. It is crazy and the (social media) posts are out of this world.”
Though Big Bottom Market sells the packaged mix at its 5-year-old Guerneville eatery and general store and, to a lesser extent, through the market website, its sales volume has been paltry compared to what’s anticipated to come, providing an entrée to an expanding online retail presence and product line, Volpatt and Luedtke said.
“We really see this as a way to extend our business beyond Guerneville, and it really helps put Guerneville on the map,” Volpatt said.
But with just more than a month’s advance notice that the mix’s public profile was about to spike, it was a scramble to put together the operation to meet projected demand.
The team ultimately secured the large kitchen at the Odd Fellows Hall in central Forestville, known to insiders as “Biscuit Central,” and managed to raise production from about 50 packages a month to about 2,000 a week, Volpatt said.
At the request of Winfrey and her people, they agreed to market the biscuit mix with honey they sourced from Gipson’s Golden of Santa Rosa, set up packaging and labeling, and are now selling the limited edition holiday gift boxes through O’s Favorite Things Storefront on Amazon.com. The gift packs sell for $22. In-store, the mix retails for $8.95.
Big Bottom Market, named for timber-rich, riverside Guerneville’s mid-19th century moniker, was founded in 2011 by Boon hotelier and restaurateur Luedtke, Volpatt, and Kate Larkin, his partner in a 13-year-old public relations firm headquartered in New York. Volpatt and Larkin also have interest in two of the restaurants where Big Bottom Market biscuits are on the menu.