As soon as James Grant accepted a job in Cleveland in 2012 and moved his family to the area from Kansas, he and his wife, Estra, immediately became involved in the Jewish community.
But when he lost his job in 2018, the family faced a major transition period. That’s when the couple decided to become business owners.
On Jan. 1, the couple purchased Stone Oven Wholesale Bakery, which was formerly part of Stone Oven Bakery & Cafes. The bakery is at 2111 E. 36th St. in Cleveland.
Estra Grant said the move and transition were easy, especially because of the robust Jewish community in Cleveland. The family came from a small town in Kansas that didn’t have the Jewish interactions they were looking for.
“Quite honestly, we were thrilled to move to Cleveland,” she said. “We were living in Lawrence, Kan., which is a college town. That was a great, fun place, but it didn’t have the strong, cohesive Jewish community we were searching for. We had to commute to Kansas City (about 40 miles away) for our Jewish community. So, when we found out about all the cultural aspects of Cleveland, we were so excited to move here and have not been disappointed at all.”
After her husband was laid off, Grant said the Beachwood couple wanted to stay in Cleveland and search for a new venture.
“Cleveland feels like our home now,” said Grant, a member of Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights and Pepper Pike. “That was really it. We just thought about it and saw we had wonderful friends here and a wonderful community we got involved in. We feel like Cleveland is such a great place to live. So, we wanted to find a reason to stay here. I also feel like my husband, James, and I were ready to change gears a little bit and take on a new challenge.”
Purchasing the bakery was not their immediate thought.
“It was an evolution,” Grant said. “At first, James looked for similar positions and was doing a national search, but he wasn’t coming up with anything good. But in all his networking, he was talking to a lot of people and it got in our heads that we should find a business that at first, he was going to run it and then we decided we’d do it together. So, by August 2018, we were officially looking for something and this came along. It was exactly what we were looking for.
“I’ve learned the ins and outs of running a business that is in operation pretty much 24/7. That’s a big change. We’ve also met so many incredibly interesting people, both employees and customers. I’ve also learned my way around the city of Cleveland and can drive anywhere now. As for James and I, we both felt that we had a lot of the necessary ability to run a business though we hadn’t done it before. So, we knew we’d be a good team and that has turned out to be the case.”
The bakery offers wholesale artisan breads to local executive chefs, caterers, grocers and restaurateurs.
“It’s the idea that every morning there is so much baked bread that has been created, and it’s a process from mixing to packaging, and there is a tangible product,” she said. “But, I also enjoy talking with our customers and meeting customers. I also enjoy working with our team of talented bakers and dedicated people.”
With hopes of expanding in the future, Grant said owning the bakery with her husband has been rewarding.
“It has had us more immersed in Cleveland,” she said. “Between all the wonderful chefs that we’ve met and the restaurateurs, the grocers and the people, we’re becoming embedded in the Cleveland community as a whole. We’re a Jewish couple running this business and it brings those two things, Cleveland and Judaism, together.”