No flower can lift spirits quite like a sunflower.
Aptly named for themany characteristics that mirror the star who sits directly in the center of our solar system, sunflowers serve as the perfect gift to bring joy to someone’s day.
Like the sunflower bloom itself, Sunny Knauss, Owner of Sunflour Community Bakery (500 Avenue A, Rome) aims to bring brightness to our days.
Knauss and her crew opened Sunflour Community Bakery in May of 2019 after realizing that her budding idea could blossom into a full-fledged business.
“I have been working with food since I was a teenager—I’ve worked in a lot of commercial bakeries like the Engelman’s Bakery in Atlanta. I started baking at the cottage level about five years ago, and I just got to a point in my life where I felt I could reinvent myself.What better way than this?” explains Knauss when describing her reasoning behind growing Sunflour.
Knauss is a native of Rome, graduating from Darlington School in 1981.
“After I graduated from Darlington, I had all intentions of setting out to discover the big world,” says Knauss. “Rome really was a very small town back then; it has changed a whole lot in the last 30 or so years.”
She continues, “I ended up leaving here and headed to Athens to attend the University of Georgia for my undergraduate degree. There, I learned a lot about food and whole foods, alternative foods particularly.”
When stepping into this corner bakery for the first time, it’s as if you have just fallen down the rabbithole an awakened to Wonderland, right up until the fresh smell of pumpkin bread stimulates your senses and reminds you that you are in the presences of tons of breads and other fare.
Scanning the racks filled with specialty breads, muffins and salads galore, you can’t help but notice the multiple people scurrying around behind the counter, making sure each itemis perfect.
Knauss calls Sunflour a community bakery because of the help she has received from her friends and family along the way.
“We call it a community bakery because so many people have come together to do little things—or big things—to make what it is today. For example, Gorg and Mindy Hubenthal at the Foundry have been huge in getting this place built for me,” she smiles. “In fact, this building was empty for a long time before we came here, and it took a lot to get it to this point.
“I also couldn’t have done any of this without my husband, Mark, who is a professor at Georgia Highlands College, or my staff, Angie Lundmark and Amy Halverson,” Knauss says.
In the spirit of homegrown help, Knauss and her Sunflourteam try their best to source their ingredients locally.
“We get our eggs from Calhoun at Rise N’ Shine Organic Farm, our beef and lamb from Lyon’s Bridge Beef (uncured), our breakfast sausage comes from River View Farms and we have several other local providers we work with” Knauss says.
“Here at Sunflour, we try to stay as local as possible when it comes to our ingredients and other materials,” she adds. “We source from a lot of the people who frequent the farmer’s market here in town.I spend most of my time sourcing ingredients. If I can’t get any of our ingredients locally, we will head to the DeKalb Farmers Market. It makes our job harder, but we try to maintain that level of freshness and we hold that belief here.”
In Rome, there is a big chunk of the community who love and seek out organic, gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan food options. Sunflour strives to reach that market in several ways, especially as they grow their customer base.
“We call ourselves ‘gluten-friendly,’ but only because we do not have separate facilities; however, we do try and offer options for all of our customers,” explains Knauss. “We really try and pay attention to the details when it comes to our products. I always say that Sunflourhas certain standards when it comes to what we do and do not provide.”
These standards are reflected in the ingredients Sunflour uses for all of their products.
“We use all King Arthur flour—which is not local but is a really high-quality flour. Rye flour is an organic flour that we get locally,” she says. “The Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread is another signature item we sell here at Sunflour—we use organic pumpkin, Rise and Shine eggs, organic spices and Ghirardelli chips.
“We bake breads several times a week. Some of our specialty breads are tomato basil, olive rosemary, jalapeño cheddar bread (can’t make enough of that). We also offer fresh salads—like out rainbow saladwith beets and goat cheese as the main features, and seasonal salads. We love to make specialty breads and muffins, etc. and we serve fresh coffee sourced from Athens,” says Knauss.
“The biggest excitement I get is when we have kids come in. We don’t have cupcakes or anything super sweet, but we had a customer come in with her daughter a few days ago and she came up to me and said, ‘that was the best salad I have ever had!’” Knauss recalls.
“I definitely think there is a huge problem with the way America eats. Now, I know you can’t wave a wand and you can’t fix it overnight, but if you can make even a little bit of a difference, that’s what matters. It’s hard—I’m not going to lie—but a lot of it is just exposing people to more organic ingredients and breaking through many of those common misconceptions.”
In addition to offering healthier nourishment options for their customers, Sunflouralso pairs their foods with discounts to their customers. For example, Knauss loves the “people-powered” discount, where if you walk or bike to the shop, you get five percent off of your order. She also offers a military discount and a discount for when you bring your own take-out container.
Sunflour is currently in the refine and trial phase, especially as the River Arts District continues its growth as a bustling hub for Romans looking for more dining options.
“Right now, we want to refine everything—we want to get our systems down, we want to get our recipes down, etc. We’re still in the trial phase, so we try a lot of muffins out, use seasoning, change up recipes, you know,” explains Knauss. “Eventually, we will probably outgrow this space, but for now it is perfect for us. And we don’t want to grow just for the sake of growing. We want to grow with intention.”
After V3’s interview at Sunflour, Sunny and her crew sent us home with a loaf of their special Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread. Let’s just say, there was not enough to go around (okay, I ate most of it).
So, if you’re looking for a place (or a face) to help brighten your day, visit Sunflour Community Bakery. You won’t be disappointed.
To learn more about Sunflour Community Bakery, visit their website at: https://www.sunflourcommunitybakery.com
Sunflour Community Bakery Hours:
Closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Open on Tuesdays from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Open on Wednesdays from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Open on Thursdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.