While running a catering company years ago, chef Amy Edelman bought her cakes from Night Kitchen Bakery in Chestnut Hill. One day, owner Sandy Soley asked her if she knew anyone who wanted to buy the bakery.
“That’s when my wheels started turning,” Edelman said. “Six months later, I bought the bakery.”
That was 2000. She was 33, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a veteran chef with stops as disparate as the Commissary in Center City, a resort in Florida, Euro Disney in France, and Pollo Rosso, an Italian restaurant in Chestnut Hill.
Six months later, she met John Millard. He came to work for her a year after that. They got married and have run the bakery together since.
Edelman enlarged the Night Kitchen about five years ago, taking over the retail space next door to expand seating and add breakfast and brunch foods. She also hired chef Carl Drake (formerly of Drake’s Catering in Chestnut Hill), one of her line cooks at Pollo Roso 22 years ago.
Q: How did you meet John?
A: John was a chef. It’s kind of funny because when I was at the Commissary, when I was 17 years old, John was at 16th Street Bar and Grill [around the corner]. We didn’t know each other. Then years later, I was at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Florida and John was in Fort Lauderdale at Café Max. Also, we didn’t know each other. He was married. Then when I first bought the bakery, I placed a personal ad and my personal ad had my email address, “ChefAmyBeth” and my zip code. We started dating soon after I bought the bakery and within a year, he was here working with us.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge about owning a retail bakery in 2016?
Answer: There’s so many. The biggest is always consistency. I always tell my staff that we can make or break our reputation every single day. Fluctuating prices is always an issue. It’s very hard to deal with issues that come up, like last summer there was a big problem with the eggs because there was a virus that ran through 90 percent of the chickens that were being raised for egg breeding. All of a sudden, our egg prices tripled, I think. We couldn’t obviously raise our prices to accommodate for that much of an increase, so we had to ... We lost a lot of money for about a good six months until things normalized in the egg-producing business.
Q: How about competition?
A: It’s funny because the year I bought the bakery, someone opened another bakery in Chestnut Hill called Cake and she’s still there, but when she opened, she opened it as a bakery. It was first a bakery, now it’s more of a restaurant. I was a little panicked when I heard that she was opening another bakery and I thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s competition. What’s that going to do to the Night Kitchen?’ To be honest with you, in 16 years that I’ve owned the bakery, we have grown the business every single year. The way I view competition is, especially with a growing population, people are moving back to Philadelphia, it’s got the largest growing millennial population in the country. There should be room for everyone, so that’s the way I have to look at it — otherwise I could get very anxiety-ridden, and I already have enough things to worry about.
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