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Can a sandwich have a cult following? If so, the breakfast sandwich at Source Bakery in Gloucester is well on its way to achieving that status. 

A freshly baked buttermilk biscuit is split in half and layered with scrambled eggs, sharp cheddar cheese, and a hefty pinch of fresh arugula. Thick, toothsome bacon can be added on request (and you should definitely request it). It seems straightforward, but there’s some alchemy to this egg sandwich that has customers clamoring for it. It is by far the most frequently ordered item at the eight-month-old café, and diners ask for it with joyful anticipation in their voices. 

“I think the biscuit has a lot to do with it,” bakery owner Julie White says. “The fresh-scrambled eggs—there’s no microwave in house. And the arugula adds a bit of freshness. “

If egg sandwiches aren’t your thing, you’ll still find plenty of delicious options: salt-dusted chocolate chunk cookies, rich brioches, and tender muffins and coffee cakes. At lunchtime you could try a grilled cheese or BLT (more of that bacon!). Source also offers a rotating selection of sweet and savory hand pies, with flaky crusts encasing fillings like raspberry-apple, baked potato, spinach and feta, and chicken pot pie.

Everything is made from scratch – “We even make all our own jams,” White says – and the menu uses as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible. The coffee comes from Ipswich-based Little Wolf Coffee Roasters, the bread is from Beverly’s Bonny Breads, and many of the vegetables come from Moonlight Farm in central Massachusetts. Source also works with a specialty distributor that sources almost all its products, from produce to meat and cheese, from farmers in the Northeast. 

“The local food movement is really important to me, not as a fad, but as a lifestyle,” White says. “When you’re able to work with other businesses in your community, you can all uplift each other.”

The steady stream of customers at the café suggests White and head baker Ashley Barnett have found a winning approach. But they did not stumble into this burgeoning success: It is the result of a carefully plotted strategy White has been working for years. 

In high school, White had jobs in bakeries and restaurants and always loved working in the food industry. She studied sociology at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, but realized quickly after graduation that her heart was in the food world.

“I got the idea that I would someday like to own my own place,” says White, who had long been an enthusiastic amateur baker.

She worked for a while at a Mediterranean food marketplace in Worcester, then joined the Tatte café chain as a general manager, helping open new stores during a time of rapid growth for the company and learning more about the ins and outs of restaurant management. 

After three years, she decided it was time, and in 2019 she launched Source Bakery, working out of a shared kitchen in Malden. She met Barnett through a mutual acquaintance, and Barnett joined the business part time a few months in. They sold their wares at farmers markets and pop-up events, took special orders, and developed a wholesale business. As their name recognition grew, they started looking from Beverly to Cape Ann for a brick-and-mortar location where they could open a café.

The spot they found, tucked down a side street in downtown Gloucester, is simultaneously airy and cozy, with exposed brick walls, white wainscoting, reclaimed wood beams, and a bank of windows that offers glimpses out to Gloucester Harbor. It has quickly become the sort of place that has regulars—downtown workers popping in for a morning treat, freelancers escaping the home office, retirees meeting friends for coffee and a strawberry crumble tart. 

This loyal fan base is helping the business grow in other ways as well. A crowd-funding campaign that ended in July raised more than $19,000, qualifying the bakery for a grant of $38,000 from the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation. The money will be used to buy an espresso machine, a gas griddle, a dough sheeter, and other kitchen equipment to help expand the menu. 

“We’re super-excited,” White says, imagining a future of lattes and croissants and abundant lunch options. 

But don’t worry: The egg sandwich isn’t going anywhere.

3 Duncan St., Gloucester, 978-515-7151,