Rahn Keucher began leavening his baking career by cooking in local restaurant kitchens, ranging from Pizza Hut to the former fine-dining restaurant l’Auberge, to help put himself through Wright State University.
These days, Keucher’s position as founder and owner of Rahn’s Artisan Breads calls for him to work vampire-like hours on his feet 70 to 75 hours a week, sweating over hot ovens in a non-air-conditioned building.
He sells his breads and other baked goods to restaurant clients such as Coldwater Cafe, Harrison’s, Wellington Grille, The Little Store, Blueberry Cafe, Disalvos Deli, Christopher’s Restaurant, Canal Street Deli, and about another 25 other establishments.
And last month, he celebrated the bakery’s 15th anniversary of serving customers directly from his retail operation inside the 2nd Street Market in downtown Dayton.
So chances are, you’ve eaten a sandwich or a pastry or a soft pretzel made by Rahn Keucher. And he is our Daytonian of the Week this week.
Describe a typical work day for you.
My typical work day (night) starts at 7 p.m. when I get up. I go to the bakery by 9 p.m., clear my voicemail, return a phone call or two and generate our production sheets and logs. Scaling and mixing begins by 10 p.m. First oven on by midnight, except for Friday night, when they are fired at 10 p.m. due to cookie/pretzel/scone/pastry volume.
Dividing and shaping of doughs as the night progresses, and baked when needed. Packing and slicing as the breads are cool enough. This takes longer in the summer because there is no air conditioning in the bakery. The first truck is loaded and leaves around 5:30 a.m., the second at 6 a.m. All bread is delivered before 10:30 a.m.
On Saturday mornings, I stay at the 2nd Street Market at least until 11 a.m., although I do have to bake Saturday night for Sunday at the market.
>> RELATED: Dayton bakery celebrates 10 years of retail sales (July 2013)
Why did you decide to stay in and settle in the Dayton area?
My wife and I are both military brats and have been all kinds of places. Truth is, we both wound up here, met in Yellow Springs, settled in Enon, and will be married 25 years in October. I guess the Dayton area is just stuck with us.
What’s been your most recent professional challenge, and how did you push through the challenge?
Our most recent challenges have included the overall economy with thousands of good paying jobs, GM/Delphi and NCR to name a few, going away. Also, most of my equipment is now 16-plus years old and breaks down much more frequently. I wish I had taken a class in refrigeration repair when I was younger!
What are your favorite places to eat and/or drink in the Dayton area?
Due to my stupid schedule, I don’t get to eat out with my family often. I did have a date night with Gina two weeks ago at Meadowlark. That was excellent. My kids have really enjoyed Canal Street Arcade & Deli the two times I have taken them on a Sunday afternoon.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I guess my guilty pleasures include making my staff listen to the Reds games the radio (neither of them cares for baseball). And I keep Dove ice cream bars in the freezer at the bakery.
What inspires you about Dayton?
What inspires me about Dayton is the fact that 99.99 percent of our customers at the 2nd Street Market are so VERY nice to both me and my four sons. Between Euro Bistro (the now-defunct restaurant in the Page Manor shopping center where he made soups, quiches and breads from scratch in the early 1990s) and Rahn’s Artisan Breads, HUNDREDS of people have watched my family expand and grow up, as I have had the honor of witnessing their families expand and grow up. It’s really kinda cool.