Stone Oven returns to its bread-baking roots
When the Stone Oven Bakery and Café opened in 1995 in the Cedar Lee Business District, owners Tatyana Rehn and John Emerman had already been baking bread for distribution to area stores and restaurants for two years.
As they continued to add new wholesale customers, that part of the business eventually required a larger production facility, which they located on East 36th Street in Cleveland. Rehn ran the wholesale operation, while Emerman looked after the retail business.
Now, though, Rehn is back to baking bread in small hand-made batches, exclusively for Stone Oven’s Lee Road café.
In an effort to create a simpler and more satisfying business, Emerman and Rehn sold the wholesale bakery in a transaction that closed on Jan. 1, 2019. The deal included a commitment to continue buying bread from the wholesale bakery for their retail locations. That agreement expired at the end of 2022.
“We really wanted to get back to our roots—making bread in small batches right here on Lee Road,” Rehn said. “The quality is far superior to what we were doing in huge batches. And walking through the dining room with a tray of fresh bread taken straight from the oven gives me so much joy! And the customers are really thrilled, too!”
Rehn said the wholesale bakery was producing 2,200 loaves a night at the time of the sale. Now, she’s baking about 100 loaves.
“I became somewhat disconnected from the process and more involved in dealing with customers, and just managing employees, etc.,” she said. “I missed getting my hands in the dough and the feeling that you get when you pull a beautiful loaf out of the oven.”
Currently, Rehn is baking Miller’s Multigrain, Siciliano and San Francisco Sourdough, with plans to reintroduce other varieties over the coming months. Her bread is only available at Stone Oven’s Cleveland Heights storefront.
The wholesale business continues to supply bread to area grocery stores under the name Stone Oven Wholesale Bakery.
The second Stone Oven café, at Eton shopping plaza in Woodmere, was sold in late 2019 and continues to operate under separate ownership. Its pastries are supplied by the Cleveland Heights Stone Oven, said Rehn, while its bread comes from the wholesale bakery.
Cleveland Heights resident Bob Rosenbaum is co-chair of the Heights Observer Advisory Committee, and is responsible for its advertising sales and market development.