State Bakery & Smokehouse serves barbecue and pastries
By Erin Scherer, Photo by Jan Regan
Texas barbecue and pastries might seem like an unlikely pairing for some, but at State Bakery & Smokehouse, located in the hamlet of Canoga, Seneca County, they complement each other perfectly. State—named for the government-run bakeries co-owner Kal Awad would visit on trips to Egypt in his youth—opened in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers delectable pastries that are informed by the time that Awad and his partner, Sam Walker, spent working at bakeries in the Baltimore area.
Awad was born in Cairo, Egypt, and grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania; Walker grew up in Asheville, NC, and Baltimore, where the two met. For a few years, they worked at Pitango, an Italian pastry and gelato shop, where they oversaw operations and performed deliveries and consulting for other bakery programs in the Washington, DC, area. By the end of 2018, however, they found themselves growing a little restless and decided to go into business for themselves. After considering buying a chocolate farm in Ecuador, they scoured the country in search of a place to launch a bakery.
“We searched for a place that was really about nature—black soil, good water, clean environment,” says Awad. Proximity to a college campus was a consideration, and when they visited Ithaca in April 2019, they found what they were looking for.
Driving up Route 89, they noticed that “there was nowhere to eat and nowhere to stop,” recalls Awad. That August, they bought an old machine shop, and the original plan was to focus on baking and wholesaling croissants locally. When COVID-19 shut down some local restaurants entirely, however, they decided to expand their focus to include Texas-style barbecue. They were also enamored of the concept of the Ghost Kitchen—an eating establishment open only for takeout and delivery. “We were talking to our neighbors, and they said, ‘We want to get the food we like, but we just can’t get it,” recalls Awad. With dining establishments still having to deal with restricted seating, State Bakery’s July 2020 opening was perfect timing.
Awad and Walker source their meat from their neighbors, Rosenkrans Natural Beef. They will continue to operate at their current location for the foreseeable future, but are considering expanding to Italian delicacies. Says Awad, “I think it would be really fun to [create] some focaccia and prosciutto sandwiches and mozzarella. That sounds exciting. I think that’s in the future for sure.”
State Bakery & Smokehouse, 3512 NY-89, Seneca Falls, statebakery.com
Erin Scherer wrote about Little City Vermouth in the 2021 Wine Issue. She lives in Geneva.