Durham's Ninth Street Bakery was officially acquired today by baker Ari Berenbaum.
Ninth Street Bakery was originally founded by four partners in 1981. Among them, owner Frank Ferrell, who, along with his family, operates the bakery at its current 136 E. Chapel Hill St. location.
"We are all extremely excited about this opportunity," Berenbaum tells the INDY. "The Ferrell family has been very kind to us in allowing us to take up their mantelpiece. We look forward to carrying on the Ninth Street tradition—in effect, to modernize a brand while retaining its integrity."
Berenbaum previously served as the bakery's head bread baker and production manager. Since January 2011, he has operated Berenbaum's Bakery, specializing in Jewish breads and vegan baked goods. Berenbaum's can be found at Durham Central Park on Saturday mornings, and the vegan sweet and savory hand pies are offered at a few local coffee shops.
The bakery and cafe's mission is "to provide organic, healthy products." Its website highlights an environmentally minded business ethos, stating, "We are not only responsible, we are responsive." The bakery currently distributes its breads and pastries to 21 local supermarkets and seven coffee shops, much of it delivered via a veggie-fueled van.
In 1992, Ninth Street Bakery moved its baking operations from Ninth Street to the old Herald-Sun newspaper production facility downtown, now the bakery and retail cafe's current Chapel Hill Street location. The bakery's Ninth Street location was closed in 1996 (and is now occupied by Elmo's Diner).
Most recently, Berenbaum teamed up with Ninth Street Bakery cafe chef Matt Props to host their Day One vegan pop-up dinners at the restaurant at least once a month. The cafe serves lunch six days a week and dinner on Tuesday and Saturday nights.
"Matt will be able to build out the vegan options on the permanent lunch menu, expand the daily specials menu, continue vegan dinners on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and possibly more nights based on demand," says Berenbaum.
On Saturday, Sept. 14, Ninth Street Bakery will celebrate 32 years of business, from 5 to 9 p.m. According to today's press release, the celebration dinner will be "a symbolic passing of the torch. More details to follow."