Sweet aromas of baking will soon fill Mount Oliver.
The Bakery Society Pittsburgh, the region’s first bakery incubator with its fitting acronym (TBSP), will exist within the former Kullman’s Bakery. A family-owned institution for almost 60 years, Kullman’s left a pastry-sized hole in the hearts of customers when it closed because of family illness a few years ago.
TBSP staffer Jami Pasquinelli, working at the time as a commercial district manager for Economic Development South, saw the hole. She has fond memories of stopping into the bakery and chatting with the other patrons.
“It was one of the last anchor businesses in Mount Oliver,” she says.
In 2015, Pasquinelli decided to re-engage Mount Oliver with “Sweet Saturdays,” bake sale pop-ups in the former Kullman’s space.
“They were all so successful, I thought, ‘There must be something we can do to give this bakery back to the community,’” says Pasquinelli.
Her familiarity with business incubators from her work with EDS sparked the idea to create one here. But starting a bakery is an expensive endeavor.
Equipment isn’t cheap, and the hours are long. Kullman’s offered a partially set space in which an incoming class of bakers could shine. TBSP put out the call for applications and, after a long process, selected four bakers with varying specialties and levels of experience.
Jewel Edwards comes from the world of corporate kitchens and is looking forward to striking out on her own. With a degree in pastry arts, she specializes in simple desserts that are easy to take along — such as parfaits, tarts, Bundt cakes and cupcakes.
Sam Cobbett has been in the bakery industry for almost a decade, most recently at locally renowned Five Points Artisan Bakeshop. He specializes in laminated doughs for goods such as croissants, pastry and Danishes. He’ll be working with Tiny Seeds Farm in Allison Park for his residence and plans to bake seasonally and locally with produce.
“I’m excited to bake what I like, but also I’m excited to ask the Mount Oliver community what they like,” he says.
Christina Decker is a self-taught cook and baker who co-owns the catering company, Thyme A Modern Cookery. Confidence in her cooking skills didn’t translate to comfort with the business side.
Decker is excited to work on her business model with the professionals available through the incubator. She plans to focus on seasonal ingredients and incorporating sweet and savory flavors.
Christopher Hoffman comes from the world of music, in which he spent 30 years. An avid home cook and baker, he is looking to hone his bread and business at the incubator.
The bakery incubator is intended to follow in the footsteps of Kullman’s by creating a fun, community space.
“We want our customers and bakers to have a typical bakery experience,” says Tim Hindes, marketing director of TBSP.
There are a lot of bakery puns infused with 1990s lyrics on signage, and collaboration is encouraged. Cases will stock all of the bakers’ new goods for customers to sample. Every customer who purchases something will receive a wooden nickel they can use to vote on a favorite '90s lyric for a t-shirt contest.
TBSP is also planning on offering free monthly classes to neighborhood children. Teenagers can work at the counters. Also, there is an option to become a community baker, which offers applicants low-fee access to the kitchen and equipment to persons 18 and older with a ServSafe certification.
Marge Walter, who served as store manager for Kullman’s while her sisters baked, is excited about TBSP.
“I’m glad they are continuing on with a bakery of some sort and teaching and giving people the opportunity to be bakers,” she says.
To keep up with The Bakery Society Pittsburgh’s progress, follow them on Facebook and Instagram.