Wildflours bakery reopening 5 years after devastating Brunswick fire

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BRUNSWICK – Wildflours Bakery is a phoenix rising from the ashes.

A tasty, gluten-free phoenix.

Wildflours Gluten-Free Bakery burned down in a massive fire at 45 Maine St. five years ago, along with apartments and other commercial spaces. Firefighters later said the 174-year-old building had “outstanding issues pertaining to fire and life safety.”

Since then, bakery owner Kelley Hughes has run her business out of converted office space owned by her father-in-law at 54 Cumberland St., selling her baked goods wholesale and at local farmers markets.

Hughes said this week that the fire was a “bigger loss than I was willing to admit in the beginning.” But, she added, “We are fortunate to have dedicated customers.”

Now, after five years, “we are busier than we can handle,” Hughes said Tuesday.

Hughes said she sells out at farmers markets in a matter of hours, and is often asked about where her retail shop is located.

Now she has an answer.

On May 10 Hughes approached the Planning Board for a special permit to run a retail business at the Cumberland Street office building, which is in a residential zone.

In her application, Hughes said she plans to add a small retail area to the 940-square-foot space. “The vision,” she wrote, “(is) an in-and-out bakery that will allow customers access to our products on a more regular and consistent basis.”

Board member Richard Visser asked Hughes if deliveries would block traffic flow or parking. Hughes said the number of shipments would not increase, and no problems currently exist.

In a show of support rarely seen at Planning Board meetings, neighbors took the podium to back up Hughes’ claim.

“There is … absolutely no problem whatsoever” with delivery trucks, said Kathy Wilson, who owns a nearby pet grooming business on Cushing Street. Wilson is also a town councilor.

“I fully support them being a neighbor,” she said. “They’re already a neighbor, but I want to (be able to) go get a muffin.”

Hughes’ landlord and father-in-law, George Cabot, also spoke in favor of the special permit.

He said he has owned the building at 54 Cumberland for more than 35 years, and his past tenants have included family planning services, the town’s human resources department, and a beauty parlor.

“The intended and projected traffic … is almost minuscule compared to some of the applications I’ve had in there,” he said.

The board unanimously approved Hughes’ application; it takes effect in 30 days.

After the meeting, Hughes said she hopes to have the new retail space open in the next six months. She needs to add a door to the front of the building, create a small garden, gut the current space, and rebuild a kitchen and retail counter.

She also said she plans to hire two or three new people to help with the increased sales.

“We’re a go,” Hughes posted to the bakery’s Facebook page right after the meeting. “Retail bakery coming your way, my friends.”

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or wwuthmann@theforecaster.net. Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Wildflours Gluten-Free Bakery, at 54 Cumberland St., received a special permit from the Brunswick Planning Board Tuesday to open a retail bakery for the first time in five years.

Wildflours owner Kelley Hughes.

The front of Wildflours’ wholesale bakery at 54 Cumberland St. in Brunswick will soon be renovated to accommodate a new retail shop.

Firefighers battled a fire at 45 Maine St. in 2011 that claimed the whole building, including Wildflours Bakery.

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Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.