Jen Urich lays the seeds for business expansion in autumn.
Farmer x Baker, their 160-square-foot shipping container service cafe in Aspinwall’s Allegheny RiverTrail Park, adds a stationary location in O’Hara Township. The growing company will also be offering weekend brunch at Cellar on Penn in the Strip District starting August 7th.
The new takeaway, general store and manufacturing facility on 1101 Powers Run Road will serve the same field-to-foodie menu that has resonated with customers since Farmer x Baker debuted in July 2019. All sandwiches, salads, baked goods, vegan soft ice cream and botanical drinks are made from scratch with organic, GMO-free ingredients. Colorful flowers decorate many dishes.
Bagels are the best-selling. The only furnace in the shipping container has so far produced 10,000 of them.
The Farmer x Baker container season typically runs from April to November. It’s heated and insulated, but it’s not up to the Pittsburgh winters.
Diners can eat Wednesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and enjoy dinner on Thursdays and Fridays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Ten percent of all profits go to Allegheny RiverTrail Park, formerly known as Aspinwall Riverfront Park. Officials recently acquired an additional six acres of land and a 1.5-mile hiking trail along the river that extends to O’Hara and Sharpsburg, prompting the name change.
The new location, which is due to open in September, is ten times the size of the shipping container and enables Urich to start a bread program, sell ready-made meals, fresh and canned products and offer catering services. It also plans to increase its 20-strong workforce to 40 full-time employees and offer them social benefits.
Urich models the room after Zingerman’s delicacies in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a place she visited as a child.
“I grew up riding my bike to my neighborhood store and burned 50 cents a hole in my pocket,” she says. “I’m happy to be part of a neighborhood and give local children the same experience.”
Urich sources ingredients from local farms, including their own. Gibsonia Root and Heart Farm is a 210 year old farm focused on heirlooms. Other growers in the region who stock Urich with seasonal produce include Tiny Seed Farm and Freedom Farms. Although her homestead is now closed to the public, she could hold events there again next spring, depending on the Covid situation.
The O’Hara area will be opened for collection and delivery by an in-house service instead of third-party drivers.
On the Strip, there is brunch at Cellar on Penn every Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Farmer x Baker employees will be stationed on the sidewalk lined with picnic tables. The menu will include all of the “greatest hits” from the Aspinwall shipping container, including many vegan and gluten-free options.
“That pulled us to the strip,” says Urich. “People are looking for something else and that’s what we offer: Veggie-Forward fuel.”
Are more shipping containers in the future of Farmer x Baker?
Urich says yes, with the option of another shop window too.
“What we do has met with approval from the audience,” she says. “Our style of hospitality is reflected in our food and connects people with nature. We want customers to feel better when they leave than when they arrive. And that starts from the moment we take your order. “
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