• August 12, 2020

Fat Jack’s filling baked goods void - Odessa American: News

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Fat Jack’s filling baked goods void

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    Owner of Fat Jack's Bakery Chris Woody stands behind the counter for his portrait Thursday afternoon. This small bakery which has been running for over 17 years has shifted to baking loaves of bread along with their deserts to help people in Odessa be able to have some freshly baked bread at home.

Posted: Sunday, April 5, 2020 5:00 am

With bread and fresh-baked goods sometimes hard to find on grocery shelves, Fat Jack’s is doing its part to fill the void.

Owner Chris Woody said he has had the bakery for 17 or 18 years. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the business, at 309 W. Yukon Road, has gone in a different direction.

“Before the oilfield tanked, we did more corporate stuff and salesman oriented. Now it’s more individual sales and things that grocery stores can’t keep up with like bread and stuff. So we transitioned over and started doing some different items that we didn’t normally make to help out with that. It’s just kind of taken off. They come in for a loaf of bread and buy all the other stuff,” Woody said.

“It doesn’t hurt that everybody’s on lock down right now. Their own kids are driving them bananas and so they’re coming in for whatever they can get to get out of the house because there’s limited options out there,” he added.

Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 6:30 a.m. to noon on Friday.

On an average day, he comes in at 3 a.m. or 3:30 a.m. On the busier days, he comes in earlier. There are seven employees all together. They were expecting a huge slowdown because of the downturn in oil prices.

“It’s a 12 hour day for most of us — 3 to 3,” Woody said.

Tabitha Bitsillie has worked at Fat Jack’s for almost five years.

“I live nearby, so it’s real convenient. I bake all kinds of stuff. Whatever you see here, we make it from scratch then we bake it. I’m used to it because I’ve done this for a long time. Even at home, I bake and I cook. Right now, it’s kind of like I have to,” Bitsillie said.

Sometimes she brings baked goods home, but a lot of times she’ll give it to other restaurants so it doesn’t go to waste.

The physical size of the bakery is tiny.

“With all the restrictions on how many people can be in there, it takes a two to three person crew up here and then everybody else they just stay in the back and produce and rotate product. It’s definitely been interesting the past couple of weeks,” Woody said.

He said everything that was popular before is still popular, but what caught them by surprise was the bread.

“We tried this for 15 years to sell bread, make fresh bread and we couldn’t give it away. Then once all this started happening two or three weeks ago, people are calling us and begging us for bread and we can’t keep it. So yeah, it’s the strangest thing. You couldn’t give some away for free and now you can’t keep it. But they’re paying for it,” Woody said.

He said preferences haven’t changed among the customers.

“It’s just more quantity. Now everybody’s stress eating, boredom eating, so it’s more of the same. They don’t really change much of anything,” Woody said.

The name Fat Jack’s came about because Fat Chris didn’t sound as good, he said.

“It didn’t roll of the tongue like Fat Jack’s. That’s no joke. It’s serious. There’s no Jack. There never has been,” Woody said.

Before the customer restrictions of two at a time, Woody said there were times when the door didn’t shut and there would be five to 10 people lined up inside and a line out the door and down the porch.

“Business has changed so much with the coronavirus and the restrictions and everything, but yeah even the past several days we’ve had people lined up out in the parking lot waiting their turn, patiently. Surprisingly, everybody has been really cool about it and nobody getting all upset. Where do they have to be? Very few of them are working. No place you can really go.”

The bakery has been in the same spot since it opened. It was formerly a house.

“The house was moved in from downtown Odessa that somebody had moved off a lot and we found it just sitting out in a field. Some house movers had it up on blocks and we bought the whole building for $2,500, moved here and … they moved it in and we remodeled it and got it all to where it needed to be. It makes a big difference when you don’t have to pay rent …,” the Odessa native said.

Woody said he has always loved to bake and cook.

Bread is notoriously tricky, but he said you just have to know what to look for.

“There’s no real secret to it. It’s learning the dough. The biggest problem most people do is they make it too puffy, which is called over-proofing, or make it too thin, so it’s under-proofing, so you have like a brick with one and one is just a big pocket of air inside,” Woody said.

“It’s just time management; knowing what you’re looking for and practice, practice, practice. There’s no real secret to it. Even still today when I do it, when we make these loaves of bread, I set a general timer to get them to rise and raise. There’s not a set time. You have to know what you’re looking for and know what it needs,” he added.

Odessa, TX

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