Downtown bakery celebrates its one-year anniversary

Christina Thomas

VIEW photos from the bakery.

After many trips overseas, Charles Braeutigam fell in love with European food, so he decided to bring a little taste of Europe back to Kent.

Braeutigam and Andrea Berry are owners of the one-year-old downtown bakery called The Bäckerei. They will be celebrating the bakery’s first anniversary by baking a giant cake and offering free pieces to tomorrow’s customers.

“The cake is mostly a thank you to all the customers who come in here, especially the ones we see on a weekly basis,” Braeutigam said. “So we can say thank you for coming down here and supporting us and being a part of the bakery.”

Apart from making bread, pastries and pretzels, the European-inspired bakery and café has a breakfast and lunch menu. The shop is WiFi enabled, and they offer a catering service for special events.

Before Braeutigam went into the baking business, he taught French and German at Kent Roosevelt High School for 10 years. He said after making many trips to places like France and Germany, he decided to open his own bakery inspired by foreign food.

“I fell in love with European bread and could never find it here in the States,” he said. “So I decided that I needed to learn how to make it myself.”

Berry, who was a baker at Tops and Giant Eagle for 10 years, also wanted to start her own business, Braeutigam said. The two owners said it’s a major accomplishment to have made it to their one-year anniversary. The Bäckerei, like many small businesses, has been hit hard by the struggling economy.

“The economy has really crushed us with the price of everything going up,” Braeutigam said. Berry added that it is also difficult to advertise because it is expensive.

Dan Smith, economic development director of Kent, said the city is happy to know that independent businesses like this one are succeeding.

“From a city perspective, we’re extremely excited about the independently owned shops that have flourished in Kent.”

One thing that makes small businesses successful is their ability to create a better experience for the customer, Smith said.

“If you walk into The Bäckerei, it is most likely the owner will know you by your first name or get to know you.” he said. “These downtown businesses have found their specialty niche or experience that big-box retailers simply can’t fill due to their high volumes.”

He said another reason many of the owners began their business downtown and continue to run it successfully is because of their history with Kent State.

“The business professionals have a strong connection to the university because many of them either went to Kent or had strong ties to someone at the university,” Smith said.

Berry and Braeutigam are both originally from the Akron area, but they started their business in downtown Kent because its proximity to the university.

“We chose it because of the university and the different ethnicity on the campus,” she said. “And we figured there would be a lot of foot traffic downtown.”

Braeutigam and Berry invite everybody to come to the shop for their celebration tomorrow.

“Come and visit us, even if you want to just come in to look,” Braeutigam said. “There are a lot of people in Kent that drive all the way out to Stow to go to Panera Bread when they can come here.”

Berry said they can compete with Panera Bread, especially when it comes to breads and pastries, and they are closer.

“Anything Panera makes, we make, and cheaper,” she said.

Contact public affairs reporter Christina Thomas at [email protected].