AN ARTISAN bakery is celebrating its first anniversary after having opened in one of the most challenging periods ever for small businesses.

Mark’s Artisan Bakery and Pie Shop opened its doors on Whalley Road, Clitheroe in June 2020 and has proved popular with customers ever since.

This was despite the recurring coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns throughout that year and into 2021, which made trading conditions extremely challenging, especially for newly established venues.

Owner Mark Solomon said: “I’m delighted to be celebrating our first year in business despite the huge challenges that small high street businesses have faced, due to the pandemic.

“I really believe that consumer eating and shopping habits are changing in relation to the requirements for less processed food and waste.

“This is why it is so important to me that I know each and every ingredient that goes into all of the produce in my bakery, and the reason that I decided to be a truly authentic bakery baking everything from scratch, not pre-made ingredients that some bakeries and supermarkets may buy in.”

Mr Solomon’s roots are in Russia, where his family were bakers. He has owned various restaurants over the years where he has been the head chef, including Quizine, in the Swan Courtyard in Clitheroe town centre.

He says that he and his team hand make every product from scratch, every day on the premises without any preservatives or chemicals and that the Ribble Valley business in the only “truly authentic” artisan bakery in Clitheroe.

Mr Solomon said: “The philosophy seems to be working, as we have wonderful feedback from so many customers who keep coming back to the shop for more.

“I even had one customer say her children won’t eat any supermarket bread after eating our bread for their sandwiches!”

The shop also offers vegetarian, vegan and low gluten options.

Mr Solomon said: “I believe that having the unique knowledge and understanding of both baking and cooking, is what sets me apart from other bakeries.

“Normally, there is just one area of expertise, perfect pastry or perfect filling, luckily I have worked hard over the past 30 years to perfect both!

“I even make from scratch my own sourdough starter and poolish on the premises, a type of yeast, which is naturally very low in gluten.”