When Amy Scherber, owner of Amy’s Bread, found out that there was no more rentable space in Chelsea Market to hold her expanding business, she knew she needed a larger facility where it would be easy to load and make deliveries to her Manhattan stores.
“We loved our space there, but we just didn’t have enough room to spread out anymore,” said Scherber. “After we looked around in other boroughs and in Manhattan, we realized that Queens had the nicest spaces that were on one level.”
Specifically, she found it in Long Island City. About a month ago, the bakery began making all of its bread at the new 30,000-square-foot facility. The company’s offices also moved to Queens from Chelsea Market, and its sweets bakery moved there from its Hell’s Kitchen location.
The timing of the move is appropriate, since the business just celebrated its 20th anniversary.
Amy’s Bread first opened in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan on 9th Avenue and 46th Street. Scherber always wanted to start a food business, but thought it would be a restaurant. When she fell in love with bread, she decided to open a bakery instead.
After a few months, Amy’s Bread also began selling sweet items, such as coffee cake, Irish soda bread and scones. In 1996, Scherber opened a second location in Chelsea Market and started serving sandwiches. In 2000, layer cakes were added to the menu, and in 2005 a third location was opened in the West Village.
Though Scherber will miss the food community of Chelsea Market, there is also one in her bakery’s new home.
“Right now there’s not so much camaraderie. Inside of the [Chelsea] market you have all of these different food businesses all under one roof and here we’re sort of spread out. But I feel like there is some kind of local food culture,” she said, including other bakers.
She even refers to the area as the “Flour District.”
“It’s not a particular term that a lot of people have mentioned before,” she said.
Actually, her real estate broker may have coined it.
“Our broker kind of came up with it when we were looking at all the bakeries that were around here and said, ‘Oh, you guys are part of the Flour District!’” explained Scherber.
Right down the street is the cookie headquarters of Eleni’s, which also has a retail location in Chelsea Market. Other bakeries include Le Pain Quotidien, Pain D’Avignon, Tom Cat and BR Guest.
In Long Island City, there are no immediate plans to open a retail store for at least a year. Located on 34th Street off 48th Avenue, there are not many food options near the bakery, but there is not a lot of foot traffic either. Once she gets to know the area better, said Scherber, she will see if Amy’s Bread can open a store in Long Island City.
For now, Amy’s Bread’s is focusing on making changes to two of its existing shops—Chelsea Market and Hell’s Kitchen. With the baking facilities gone, both retail locations are expanding. In Chelsea Market, a small baking kitchen will also be installed. Scherber expects these renovations to be completed around the end of September to early October.