Despite what you may have seen on film, there’s just one ARMIE HAMMER. But with the Lone Ranger star’s distinct on- and off-screen personas, you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
It’s a sleepy, sunless Friday morning in San Antonio, home of the Alamo, the River Walk and, since April of last year, Bird Bakery, a charming sweets-and-sandwiches dispensary in the upscale enclave of Alamo Heights. Quintessentially shabby chic, the eatery is filled with avian touches and is awash in distressed brown and blue (robin’s-egg, naturally). Strung lights hang from the ceiling. A cozy bench seat houses a library of books to browse. “Best Bakery” certificates peek out from beneath children’s drawings, handmade valentines and photos of friends on an overstuffed bulletin board. And, of course, the main attraction: a glass display case bearing rows of impeccably prepared cupcakes, cookies, bars and pies.
I order a sea-salt caramel latte and a slice of banana-nut bread, per the recommendation of one of the owners. We strike up a conversation about their most popular goods — he points out the Elvis cupcake, made with banana batter, chocolate chips and peanut-butter icing, but admits he’s partial to their citrus-based confections — and the dietary dangers of owning such a place.
“The key lime pies are one of the things we have the hardest time keeping in the store; they just fly off the shelves,” he says, motioning toward some empty real estate on the bottom row. “We also have a dessert called the snow bird, if you feel like ice cream. It’s a scoop of Blue Bell ice cream that we put our sea-salt caramel on top of and then two shots of espresso. It’s just — it’s ridiculous.”
He speaks quickly — excited and proud, like a new father showing off his firstborn. He explains where the building materials came from, like the wood on the ceiling, some of which was reclaimed from wildfire-ravaged barns in the west Texas town of Marfa, and the rest from a stage that the namesake of the banana/chocolate/peanut-butter cupcake once danced on. He talks fondly of their regular patrons, one of whom sits and writes for hours at a time, culling inspiration for a book she’s writing about a bakery. He credits his wife/business partner — a San Antonio native whose parents owned a health-food store and whose grandmother ran a catering company, both in the area — as the driving force behind the operation.
“I do a lot of taste-testing and a lot of the small, dexterous tasks. ‘Here’s 150 boxes — you have to stamp all of these — and then here are all these bags — you have to stamp all these and tie ribbons on them,’ ” he says, mimicking a frantic stamping spree. “My wife’s here more than I am just ’cause work obligations normally keep me from being able to come. Like, we’re about to go on a crazy press tour. In a week and a half, we go to Moscow.”
Sorry, what was that about a press tour?
“We’re in Moscow for about this long,” — he continues, pinching his fingers — “and it’s like, you get off the plane, ‘Hello! Here’s our movie! See you guys!’ Pshew! And then it’s on to Japan!”
Oh, right. I should explain: The bakery owner’s name is Armie Hammer. He happens to be a movie star.