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Bakery That Sells $12 Bread Loaves Closing Due to Lack of Business: Owner

By Leslie Albrecht | February 26, 2015 3:11pm
 Nine Chains, a popular bakery on Church Avenue, will close on March 1 after a little more than a year in business.
Nine Chains, a popular bakery on Church Avenue, will close on March 1 after a little more than a year in business.
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DITMAS PARK — A Church Avenue bakery known for treats such as focaccia sticks stuffed with Gruyere cheese will close on Sunday after a little more than a year in business.

Nine Chains, a sister business to the critically acclaimed Farm on Adderley restaurant on Cortelyou Road, is shutting down because it didn't sell enough baked goods to cover the high cost of running the bakery, manager Sarah Sutliff told DNAinfo New York.

“We definitely had our share of regulars, but between the food costs of using high-quality ingredients, and the labor costs, we just weren’t able to maintain the business,” Sutliff said.

Nine Chains co-owner Tom Kearney told Ditmas Park Corner, which first reported the closure, that "the volume of business wasn’t there to support a retail artisanal bread baking operation."

Kearney could not be reached immediately for comment.

While the neighborhood gave Nine Chains a warm reception when it opened in January 2014 and foot traffic increased steadily over the past year, the local love wasn't enough to keep the business afloat, Sutliff said.

Despite its tiny space, Nine Chains pumped out a wide array of menu items, including sandwiches, soups, pastries and bread by the loaf. Top sellers included sour white and sour wheat bread for $6.50 a loaf and ciabatta rolls for $2.25.

Another popular loaf, the Whiskey Ball, cost $8.50 per loaf and other loaves ran as high as $12, according to the menu.

When the bakery first opened, prices on some items were below "their actual value" because the goal then was to get customers through the door, Sutliff said. Prices went up later, but the increase was too little too late, she said.

Keeping up the production of Nine Chains' extensive menu required two to three professional bakers plus a counter person, all of whom were paid above minimum wage. The bakery also spent on high-end ingredients such as organic flours, and milk and eggs from an independent farm distributor in Sullivan County, Sutliff said.

“We wanted a really, really high-quality business with high-quality bakers and amazing service staff," Sutliff said. "We wanted it to be something special."

Nine Chains was one of several businesses that have brought new life to Church Avenue in recent years.

Down the street is Lark, the cafe and meeting space whose owners recently opened a cafe in Windsor Terrace. Hunger Pang, a restaurant that opened in the Church Avenue space formerly occupied by Dogwood, was recently lauded in the Wall Street Journal for its "refined food."

Sutliff said she wishes success for the other newer arrivals to Ditmas Park. The Nine Chains space will continue to be used as a commercial kitchen making food for summer concerts in Prospect Park, Sutliff said.

"We started out with an optimistic philosophy, but it wasn’t the right time and place,” Sutliff said. "Five years down the line, Ditmas Park could be Williamsburg Part 2, but it's tough when you're trying to blaze a trail and start a business on a street that doesn’t have a lot of foot traffic."