Business is booming for at least one local bakery that opened during the pandemic. Ovenbird Bakery, which opened last year in Little Italy, will expand its operations in Baltimore with a new production facility and retail space in Highlandtown.
Owner Keiller Kyle said he had signed a lease on a property at 3927 Gough St. “We’re essentially trying to migrate our main production” to Highlandtown, Kyle said. “We’ll be able to maintain and hopefully improve the experience in the Little Italy location and we can better accommodate what has become a very regular crowd during the week and large crowds on the weekend.”
While Kyle said he had always envisioned an expansion for the bakery, the better-than-expected reception at the Little Italy spot led him to explore new spaces in just the second year in business. “I just thought it was going to be year 3 or 4,” he said of the expansion. “This has come up on us very abruptly because of the overwhelming positive response that the city has given us.”
The warehouse, built in 1970, is managed by AGM Commercial Real Estate. Kyle said the landlord at the new space has been “overwhelmingly supportive” of the bakery’s plans to convert an unassuming, 20,000-square-foot warehouse into a production facility. Large bay windows will offer plentiful natural light, while new parking will accommodate both staff and customers.
Kyle said he hoped the increased space would give his staff room to expand Ovenbird’s offerings and reintroduce breads that Baltimoreans enjoyed in previous centuries, such as traditional pumpernickel, which requires a 28-hour cook time. He also wants to expand the bakery’s international offerings and give his diverse staff of 20 — with members from the Philippines, Germany and El Salvador — the chance to “represent themselves” through food.
If all goes according to plan, Kyle said he’s aiming to begin production if not retail operations in Highlandtown by early 2022. “Famous last words,” he said. After having already opened one business during a global pandemic, he said he’s simultaneously gained new confidence in his skills as an operator and newfound understanding of what can go wrong.
“I’m just scared straight all the time,” he said. “We can make it through anything — also, it could always be worse … I’m very much on my toes. "