Dan Danztler pulls into his parking spot with a license plate that makes his introduction easy; “Bread.” With his laid back confidence and pearls of wisdom, we were more than honored that he took time out for our meeting. Dan was an easy choice to highlight. His local veteran owned company makes honest fresh ingredients sourced from farms here in Northwest Arkansas.
After the Vietnam War, Dan decided he didn’t want to live in his hometown any longer and was on the hunt for his next adventure as a young man. One of his first stops was to interview for a buyer position in Bentonville. He landed the job, but once he made it back to his hotel room to celebrate, he had an epiphany; he thought, “This is terrible, I can’t live here. I am single and if I take this job, I won’t find my wife.” At that time Bentonville was home to only 5,000 people and he happened to be staying at the only hotel in the city.
After that night, he landed in Fayetteville and worked at the local radio station for some time. Then, he moved to Little Rock and got into investment banking. He remained there for 17 years as what they called “bond daddies.” At the age of 30 he became a Christian and met a beautiful Christian woman. Together, they moved back to Fayetteville.
He knew he wanted to do something honest and hardworking all while honoring his newly found faith. During that time he read an inspirational passage that discussed leading a quiet, peaceful life and working with your hands. He thought to himself, “I can’t drive a truck, drive a nail and I don’t have the brain power to be a surgeon.” After lunch with a friend one day, he was given a piece of bread for his trip home. While eating the bread, a lightbulb went off. He came home and told his wife about the idea. She eventually agreed, and they cashed in their IRA and the rest is history. When asked how they came up with the name “Stone Mill Bread”, he pointed inside the window where they would grind their own grain to make flour. They would buy wheat berries and grind the flour in a stone burr grain mill. So they decided to name the café Stone Mill Bread.
Dan and his wife distributed samples for the first ten years to gain exposure and brand recognition. They would go to Farmer’s Market or Expos to give away bread. They found vendors that were willing to sell their bread for a percentage. The vendors got their bread out to people who otherwise might not have found it.
I asked Dan what piece of advice would he give to a recent college graduate that aspired to be an entrepreneur. He replied, “I think you have to go with your gut, and have at least twenty-four months of operating expenses. It took me about eighteen months to turn a profit.” When asked if he would do anything differently in his career, he answered endearingly, “I don’t think so, anything I would change would mean I would not have met my wife.” It’s safe to say that his determination to be his own boss and his grit have been the key driving forces in his life as an entrepreneur.
Their menu consists of a wide variety of soups, sandwiches, and sweet treats. They have been a ‘design your own sandwich’ establishment from day one. They offer at least 8-10 delicious homemade soups. The desserts range from scones, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and a line of sweet breads such as; pumpkin, sour cream pecan, banana walnut, blueberry, strawberry, and many more. Everything on the menu is made from their own recipes. They offer online ordering for home delivery, dine in or drive through, and catering. All of these options make their scrumptious goodies easily accessible.
Stone Mill Bread can be found in some of your favorite local stores such as; Whole Foods, Harps, Allen’s and more. They have four drivers that deliver all over Northwest Arkansas. They even ship bread all over Northeastern and Southern Arkansas. They have been at the original location for 23 years and are considered a staple in Northwest Arkansas.
“Those whose hands are not idle know that they honour God, because they keep his commandment to be gainfully employed.” -Thessalonians 4:11-12