There wasn’t much of a life before Aaron Caddel, of the enormously popular Mr. Holmes Bakehouse chain, opened his pastry shop — but that’s only because he says he’s still super young.
The enormously popular bakehouse garnered tons of social media attention when it opened its doors in San Francisco in November 2014. While Caddel doesn’t know exactly why, we can safely guess it has something to do with the aesthetically pleasing product and minimalistic packaging that social media loves so much.
But how did this beloved pastry empire come to be?
We tried Mr. Holmes for the first time at the newest location in Tustin, CA, within the District Market. There, we met and spoke to the man behind the curtain. Oz the Great and Powerful, himself — of pastries and coffee, at least
It all began with owner and founder Aaron Caddel’s initial aspirations.
As a teenager, Caddel experienced painful seizures,drastically affecting his day-to-day life, even to the point of his driver’s license being revoked as a result.. A visit to the doctor revealed a tumor growing exponentially in his head. The suggestion of surgery presented the dangerous complication of it potentially leaving half of his body paralyzed, as well as the loss of feeling in his mouth.
Doctors advised that the tumor had the potential to be cancerous, though surgery on it was so precarious that waiting it out would prove wise before having to place his body at risk to a number of side effects.
“I was in an impossible situation.”
Caddel, who was an engineering major and barista at the time, asked doctors to give him the most accurate window they could where he’d be able to live his life to the fullest before he absolutely needed to have the surgery.
Doctors gave then 19-year-old Caddel a life expectancy that capped at 30 years old.
At this point in his life, going back to school and preparing for a future that had an early expiration date just didn’t make sense to him.
He decided then and there that, for whatever reason, he wanted to go into business. That was the way he would make his mark in the world before it was too late.
That’s when he began Mr. Holmes.
Caddel wrote a business proposal for a failing coffeeshop owner in San Francisco to serve pastries at the store. If there was one thing he knew at this point, it was the coffee business. He found a baker to help him develop his product and they set to work creating imaginative pastries to sell.
The enterprise became an instant success, which allowed Mr. Holmes Bakeshop to build a brand before they even opened a store. Business was great, but he wanted more.
Caddel decided it was time to move on from coffee into full-on pastries.
“There was a hole in the pastry market in San Francisco.”
It wasn’t easy, however, transitioning from coffee to a full-on bakehouse.
“It’s operationally a completely different animal, “ Caddel told Foodbeast. Regardless of obstacles, the young twenty-something entrepreneur stuck to his goals and kept his head and heart in the business. The results, as Caddel could see, were in the hours-long lines outside his bakehouses.
Customers were dying to try his product.
Being static and stagnant was never in the staff’s wheelhouse and Mr. Holmes’ lineup of pastries is almost never the same. Items revolve quarterly through the pastry windows like beat reporters working for a great metropolitan newspaper.
Typically menu shake ups occur when the crew gets bored with making and selling the same items over and over again. Like their actual products, the ideas are consistently fresh.
However, fan-favorite items like the Cruffin (Croissant Muffin), Corn Flakes Cookies, Donuts, and Matcha Croissants have been known to return to rotation a fair amount of times.
We’re gonna take a beat and say that the Corn Flakes Cookie is one of the best cookies we’ve had since we stepped foot in this business.
To give customers the freshest experience possible, all of Mr. Holmes’ bakeries are timed so they go immediately from the oven to the delivery trucks, ensuring that guests will never eat anything older than a few hours at the bakeshop.
The addiction to entrepreneurship lead Caddel to open two stores in Korea, quickly transforming the brand from a regional concept to an overseas endeavor.
While all this work was exhausting, he found no greater reward than the business itself.
A few years after the discovery of his tumor, Caddel received the surgery during the early days of Mr. Holmes’ inception and is currently tumor free.
We asked if Aaron ever thought about going back to pursue a career in engineering, after getting a clean bill of health from the doctors .
His response, a resounding, “No.”
“You can’t go back. It’s very difficult to do so. I can’t imagine working a 9 to 5 job.”
Caddell admitted to Foodbeast that he’s still on an adrenaline rush from building the Mr. Holmes brand and he doesn’t think there’s anything that could even compare to that feeling.
Though he admits he’s not a chef or baker, Caddel believes his love of food combined with his talented team allows him to create products he’s proud of sharing with his customers.
So what’s next for the man behind Mr. Holmes?
Caddel is priming to open his 6th location this April in the Larchmont neighborhood of Los Angeles. Expect to see many familiar pastries, and possibly a few new items that could potentially break the Internet. Or at least get your IG pic hundreds of likes.