Make life sweeter

January 30th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Make life sweeter... eat dessert first

Flour is a bakery and cafe that I frequent regularly. They have 3 Boston locations—the South End, Fort Point, and their newest Central Square—which is in my neighborhood. A lifelong passion by Joanne Chang, the bakery opened its doors in 2000. A management consultant by trade, Joanne felt something missing from her life. So she left her lucrative career and started working/training with chefs in Boston and New York—eventually starting her own bakery Flour. Everything is made fresh and they have wonderful sandwiches, salads, and pastries. The lines can be incredibly long during the weekday lunch rush so I try to get there early enough to beat it or late enough that only a few stragglers are around.

The first thing that struck me (besides the obvious crowds) was the handwritten chalkboard menu. Actually the type itself is not chalk, but paint. The handwritten theme is carried out on all menu items and the cute saying “Make life sweeter… eat dessert first!” above the open kitchen just makes you want to eat your sweets while waiting for your sandwich. The handwritten menu is so friendly and cheerful. The addition of small illustrations sprinkled throughout add another level of delight and reinforce the use of fresh ingredients in all of their offerings. You can’t help but smile when you see all of this wonderful lettering—it’s almost as if your best friend was writing to you about the specials.

Flour menu

After a little sleuthing I discovered that the woman who creates all the hand painted menus is Cathy Greve, who has also done all of the illustrations for Joanne’s new pastry cookbook “Flour” and creates Flour’s tshirts and mugs.

Handwritten type is a form of calligraphy—not the strict gothic style, but the free flowing expressive, personal style. Handwritten type took a bit of a backseat when Guttenburg’s press was invented in the 15th century, but from time to time appears again—usually reserved for posters, signage—and later—movie titles, and album covers. I remember Paula Scher in an interview talking about why she would hand letter her album covers. The answer was so simple—she didn’t have the budget to set the type! With the advent of the personal computer, it is no longer expensive or difficult to set type, but hand lettering remains popular because it is so personally styled—so human and imperfect—the opposite of the cold, calculated Mac.

Food allery abbreviations

Handwritten type is seeing a resurgence today as people are looking for more custom typography than just a font that anyone can purchase—similar to the explosion of handmade goods sold on Etsy. Illustrators such as Marianne Bantjes and Jessica Hisch are putting this style back on the map. I do hope this style sticks around for a while though and doesn’t succumb to being just a passing fad.

My only criticism regarding the hand lettering at Flour would be in their website. There is an obvious lack of hand lettering on the site. The dessert quote does occasionally appear in a photo sideshow. A few illustrations here and there and perhaps the navigation set in hand lettered type would be sufficient.

Flour Central Square Storefront

Flour interior

Flour mugs and aprons

Soups and Salads

Pastries and more

Drinks menu

Specials menu

Thanks to the staff at Flour Bakery and Cafe at Central Square for letting me take pictures!


Flour Bakery and Cafe

Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe

Graphic Content | Handlettering –