Five Points Bakery is one of my favorite small business success stories in the city. The bakery has been growing by leaps and bounds ever since day one, and the time has come for the owners to take another leap of faith. Co-owner Kevin Gardner has purchased a large abandoned property across the street and is planning… well, it’s hard to say exactly.
What he is planning I’m not going to tell you, because Kevin won’t exactly tell me. Why won’t he tell me? Because projects can change over the course of time and Kevin wants Buffalonians to follow the progress of the development as it unfolds. If you know anything about the roots of Five Points, and Kevin’s ideologies as they pertain to grassroots and organic growth, then you can formulate for yourself what the future of the new building and the surrounding land holds.
Will the abandoned building one day be a bakery and/or a cafe? Yes, no… maybe. “All I can tell you for sure,” Kevin teased me. “Is that it’s going to be enormous. We’re going to do this differently too. Instead of going out and hiring an architect and builder, and paying millions of dollars, I’m putting together a team of like-minded people who understand the business and a shared-vision. I’ll be overseeing the project from start to finish. Anyone else would have just come in and junked the building. I’ve retained ReUse Action to deconstruct part of the 11,000 square foot, four-parcel building. Then we’re going to reuse the materials on-site to rebuild the building’s new shape (5000 square feet total, with 3000 square feet set aside for public use).”
In the end, Kevin believes that he can show Buffalo that he can complete the project for a mere $500,000, which he is in the process of securing at this point. “In the meantime we have a successful operating business across the street,” Kevin said smiling. “We’re taking the lumber that we’re scrapping and we’re going to heat this building over the winter while we’re working on it [pointing to a wood-burning furnace that came with the building]. It took me two years to buy the building and now I’m coming up with the big plan. There’s plenty of land around the building to grow fruit and nut trees… and crops that we will use in our baking operation. We’ll have crops everywhere… even on the roofs and the vacant lots at the Five Points intersection (owned by Kevin – see below). This old building used to be used as storage for a building supply company. When they moved out they left behind doors, toilets, windows, an acetylene torch and metals sheets… everything that we plan on reusing on the new build. I have a ‘pattern’ for this project and now I’m looking for skilled laborers, brick layers etc,… the best people that I can find who are not only skilled, but understand the ideology behind the business. People know my track record, and I’m anticipating the rumor mill to go crazy – once word is out (here we go) and I find my resources, the project will help to build itself.”
I have always been a fan of Kevin and his wife Melissa’s passion when it comes to operating a business (see why). Their ethics and their knowledge of organic and sustainable food sourcing is unprecedented. Just thinking of the future of the Five Points business ‘model’ is mind-boggling. Kevin has the ability to transform a building, the surrounding neighborhood and affect a city’s ethos all at once. While he has not outlined the future of his business as it pertains to the building in question, there is no doubt in my mind that we are about to see something great unfold on the city’s West Side. If you’re interested in following the progress on this development, or you think that you would like to be a part in helping this ‘vision’ come to fruition, check out Five Point’s Facebook page, or stop into the bakery for a slice of toast and a cup of coffee. In a nutshell, that’s how you learn about your city… by immersing yourself into it.