Five years ago, Brad Killen tried to help a cousin with a new concept that would house several food and drink operations under one roof.
But when he went to check out the bakery competition, he couldn’t find many. So he decided to open one of his own.
“I had been in corporate sales but always had this entrepreneurial spirit,” Killen said.
He made a deal with downtown’s Soho Cafe & Bakery, taking over the kitchen after hours for a wholesale operation, Scratch Bakery KC, and then selling cookies, scones and pastries to coffee shops and restaurants throughout Kansas City.
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In 2014, he said he purchased the bakery and cafe at 310 W. Eighth St. converting it to Scratch Bakery KC cafe and moving the wholesale operation to a larger space nearby. But at 2,000 square feet the wholesale space still wasn’t big enough.
“We’ve basically been out of space for two years,” he said.
So when the owner of the longtime Judi’s Bakery in North Kansas City decided to retire, Killen bought the 20,000 square foot building at 1250 Burlington Ave., moving in in March and changing the name of his wholesale business to Kansas City Baking Co. He now has about 15 employees, including six former Judi’s Bakery workers.
Kansas City Baking Co.’s cookies are popular orders, including its salted caramel white chocolate, peanut butter chocolate swirl, and sugar with cream cheese frosting. Clients also like the handmade pop tarts with two flavors offered year-round: strawberry and brown sugar. Seasonal flavors include spiced pumpkin or s’mores in the fall/winter months. Other products include scones, danish, muffins, croissants, brownies and bars.
About 90 percent of its coffee shop clients now carry its breakfast burritos. It has 10 hospital clients who order Kansas City Bakery items for their cafes and sugar free items for patients on special diets.
Kansas City Bakery Co. also produces Wendel’s Specialty Breads. The family owned specialty bread company is based Lenexa but its breads are carried in about 140 grocery stores in the metro, as well as Minnesota and Iowa.
Killen planned to continue to operate Scratch Bakery KC cafe on Eighth Street and open a cafe in the former Judi’s Bakery spot.
Now he’ll concentrate on wholesale, selling the Scratch Bakery KC cafe and look for a tenant for Judi’s Bakery cafe space.
“I’m best and we’re best when we do wholesale,” Killen said. “We do a really good job of working with our client base and helping them increase what they do. When I am focused on both retail and wholesale I am pulled into too many directions.”
Joyce Smith: 816-234-4692, @JoyceK