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A mobile bakeshop rises in Statesboro
Screven farmer turning vision into reality
420customers A squared Web
Juanjuan Peng and son Jason, 2, visit the 4 & 20 Bakers trailer during Ag Night Out in downtown Statesboro. Serving them a sample is Jessica Lawless, an intern from Georgia Southern Universitys dietetic program. - photo by AL HACKLE/Staff

             After leaving one dream job, T. Chad Montgomery is making another vision a reality.
        Montgomery is the owner and operator of 4 & 20 Bakers - a bakery with a mobile storefront in Statesboro. He grows fruits and vegetables on a family farm and is building a catering business.
        In the process, he is emphasizing cooperative relationships with other farmers and restaurants, with Georgia Southern University and its students, and with organizations that help farmers and veterans.
        A Hilton Hotels pastry chef when he lived near Albany, N.Y., Montgomery gave up a promotion to a new hotel to move here about two and a half years ago. His father, after a career as a school guidance counselor in New York state, retired to Screven County more than 20 years ago and bought farmland. His father was living alone and advancing in age, and Montgomery, who had planned to retire southward as well, decided to make the move early.
        He loved working at Hilton and as a custodian at Georgia Southern. But he had another aspiration, going back about five years, to own a food truck.
        "I started networking on campus but I told them in two years I'm going to be out, have my food truck, and a year to the day, that's when everything happened," Montgomery said. "So we're super happy, loving Georgia and really excited to bring flavors and specialty desserts."
        After being promoted to supervisor last year, he left his GSU custodial job in April. Montgomery bought a used concession trailer in March, thoroughly renovated it, and rolled it out in August. Although a food truck in a business sense, the 4 & 20 Bakers storefront is not self-propelled.
        You can find it parked downtown many Saturday mornings for the Mainstreet Farmers Market and on Friday evenings for First Fridays and similar events. He has a spot near Paulson Stadium for Eagles home games.
        Cupcakes in "designer flavors" are 4 & 20's signature desserts. The "14 Carat" is carrot cake with a plump little carrot frosted on top. Currently the website, www.4and20bakers.com shows a baker's dozen flavors, among them red velvet, root beer float, pumpkin spice and "Guinness Ganache Bomb."
        Montgomery's company offers vegan-friendly options with no dairy and no egg, as well as gluten-free and sugar-free products. But the maple bacon French toast cupcakes and wine-and-cheese cupcakes with goat cheese obviously aren't vegan.
        The 4 & 20 stand sells fresh lemonades, and also Three Tree Coffee Roasters fair trade coffee. In one of Montgomery's cooperative business arrangements, Three Tree in turn carries 4 & 20 Bakers desserts.

Farm relationships
        Montgomery obtained 43 acres from his father's 190-acre spread to start his own farm.
        "I have a small sustainable farm, where I grow a lot of the fruits that I use for my desserts," he said. "I grow some of the veggies that I use for my catering, and I support other farmers."
        When he ran out of strawberries for strawberry lemonade, 4 & 20 folks picked 84 pounds of strawberries at Jacobs Produce, Montgomery said. He also made peach lemonade using Ogeechee Peaches. The carrots in his carrot cake come from Walker Farms, also in Screven County.
        "And so on and so on," he said. "I really want to show that you can run a sustainable business by using your neighbors' products."
        The goat cheese comes from Bootleg Farm in Effingham County. He also shops with Hunter Cattle Co. and Savannah River Bacon.
        The Natural Resources Conservation Service, a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been helpful in developing Montgomery's farming operation, which is still in its infancy, he said. Last week, he hosted 20 Georgia Southern students, from sustainability and biology programs, at the farm for a workshop on composting.

Chirpity-Chirp
        About 10 students from the university's nutrition department have also worked with 4 & 20 Bakers.
Some of these students have been involved in research and development for a new product. The company name "4 & 20" alludes to the blackbirds baked in a pie in the "Song of Sixpence" nursery rhyme, and a crow features in the bakery logo.         Although not baking birds in pies, Montgomery isn't opposed to adding cricket flour to a special cupcake.
        The Chocolate Chirpity-Chirp cupcake, with almost 10 grams of protein from cricket flour, should appeal to fitness buffs and the environmentally conscious, said Montgomery, also a former personal trainer.
        "It also has a very high sustainable footprint by not taking up a lot of land versus a cow," he said.
        He is using organic practices but does not plan to have his farming certified as organic right away. "Chef Farmer" Montgomery, who served four years in the Marine Corps concluding in 1989 and was stationed for six months in Okinawa, promotes his business as veteran-owned and expresses interest in programs for veterans.
        His goal for the farm is to make it an agri-tourism destination, he said.
        "I want to help at-risk youth and people with developmental disabilities and then a highlight on families and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder where they can come do workshops, learn how to do things like cook as a family," Montgomery said.

More outlets
        In growing his business, Montgomery sought guidance from Georgia Southern's Business Innovation Group, particularly business advisor Jill Johns.
        "They've really helped me get a grasp on this expansion, with leaving my job and what it would take to run catering, basically, full-time," Montgomery said.
        He started his bakery and catering in a kitchen on the farm, but is now using the kitchen at Holiday Pizza. At first, his event catering was limited to hors d'oeuvres and desserts, but a new arraignment with Vandy's and Holiday Pizza will allow him to expand as those restaurants will carry his desserts and catering menu, he said.
        "One of my mottos has always been to invest in people, and so many people have invested in me and helped me get to where I'm at," Montgomery said. "It's not about me; it's about ‘we.'"
        Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.

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