Ohlin's Bakery in Belmont Rebuild
$24,621 of $50,000 goal
I chose $50,000 since we don't have a number that they need so lets exceed it!
On March 15, 2016, a staple in Belmont, MA, Ohlin’s Bakery, exploded.
One stack of doughnut pans was all that separated baker Paul Klemm from disaster Tuesday morning as the oven at his Belmont bakery exploded just feet from where he stood.
“If it wasn’t for me behind those pans . . . it would’ve done some serious damage,” Klemm, the owner of Ohlin’s Bakery, said at the scene. “That’s what saved me.”
He had just walked behind the pans — stacked 6 feet tall — when something ignited the gas that had collected in the large industrial oven that he had turned on moments earlier.
The blast around 2:45 a.m. was powerful enough to blow out a brick wall and partially collapse a roof at the popular century-old family business, but Klemm escaped with only his hair and eyebrows singed by the flames.
“I’m lucky to have no marks on me,” he said. “I really wasn’t hurt, and I was less than 6 feet away.”
Klemm had just walked behind the stack of sheet pans when the blast rang out. He had been standing next to the oven just seconds before the explosion.
“It’s really a miracle that I had moved from that spot,” he said. “I could feel all the pressure around me.”
One other bakery worker was in the building at the time, but he was not harmed.
The blast also knocked out two windows at a barber shop that shares a wall with the bakery. Construction workers Tuesday morning were placing wooden panels where the glass had been.
A large pile of bricks surrounded the back door of Ohlin’s, and the area was blocked off by police tape. The roof showed obvious signs of damage.
The exact cause of the explosion is still under investigation, Fire Chief David Frizzell said at the scene.
Donata Barber, who owns a consignment shop on the other side of the bakery, said she was relieved when she arrived and saw that nothing in her store was broken.
“I thought it was a miracle I didn’t have any damage, considering all the glass and fragile stuff I have,” she said. “My heart goes out to these guys. It’s a miracle nobody got hurt.”
The bakery, which celebrated its 100th-anniversary last fall, has the “best donuts in town,” Barber said.
It even made the Globe Magazine’s recent list of “Boston’s 13 greatest doughnut shops.”
Barber said when she was a young girl, her mother took her to Ohlin’s every year to get birthday cakes. The shop hasn’t changed since.
“I don’t know where I’m going to get my donuts with my coffee break this morning,” Barber said.
On July 19, 2016, the owners of Ohlin's Bakery posted the following message on their Facebook Page.
A lot of you have messaged us asking when we will be reopening, and for the longest time we really had no idea.
We have learned that the landlord will be rebuilding the damaged part of the building soon. Her insurance company will pay to make it into a retail store ----- not a bakery. A bakery has special requirements, and we would be responsible to make it into a bakery. The problem is a bakery would need different code up grades than just a retail store, such as... a certain kind of flooring, fire suppression system, walls, new sinks, electrical up grades, plumbling up grades, plans from architect, etc.
Our insurance company will pay for the things that were damaged during the explosion, like the oven for instance. Our biggest problem is our insurance will not cover any code upgrades that we need. We are trying to figure out how much all this will cost us. We will need to see if this is something we can personally afford. We are incredibly nervous and stressed about the unknown. It is difficult telling you all this information, as we wish it was all good news, but unfortunately this is what we are trying to deal with at this time. We were hoping the insurance would cover everything we needed, so that we could have confidently told you we would be opening soon.
Our family has been in the bakery business for 100 years and we would like to continue to bake again. We love baking and feel proud that we have won recognition as a bakery, and for our donuts! We want more than anything to get back to doing what we do best. We pray that this will be possible.
We miss all our customers and want to see you all again! We love that you miss us and send us messages every day! It truly makes us feel loved to hear your kind messages to us. We will keep you posted when we figure all this out.
Paul & Marybeth Klemm
This was passed around the Facebook group "You know you are from Belmont..." and we decided we need to help! So we have created this Go Fund Me Page to make sure Ohlin's Bakery will be around another 100 years!
Unfortunately Ohlin's Bakery will not be opening. We want to thank everyone who had wished us well and donated to help us. We have reached out to the staff at the GOFUNDME and they will help refund your donations. The following message is from the GOFUNDME staff on how to go about getting your refund. Thanks to all!
"Donors have 2 weeks to reach out to our team and request a refund for their donation.Donors can reach out to our support team at https://support.gofundme.com/hc/en-us by scrolling down and clicking the green "Contact us" button.
In their message to our team, donors will want to either confirm that they have the same bank account or card that they used to make the donation, or ask our team to confirm the name and last 4 digits on the card used if they're unsure."
For those wondering the money will be used to re-build Ohlin's in a new location.
I'm in agreement with Margo and Sarah (see comments below). I was very happy to offer support to reopen Ohlins Bakery in Belmont. Frankly I'm not so sure I'd have done so if I'd known Ohlins was considering a location away from our town. Since there have been no recent updates, it doesn't seem they are opening anywhere. I appreciate and am sorry for the difficulties they are encountering, but agree with Sarah. "25K is a lot of money to be unaccounted for."
also looking for an update from Jacqueline Davis - $24k is an awful lot of money that is now in limbo land without any update to those who tried to be helpful/support a local company. Refunds or donations to a local charity should truly be considered. Disappointed in the lack of communication at this point?
Really sad to see that Ohlin's will not be reopening in any form. Please keep my small donation and put it towards whatever you do next. Ohlin's will be terribly, terribly missed.
please keep my donation......wish the klem family well!
Thank you for the update, Jacqueline. I'm sorry Ohlin's will not be able to open again. They will be missed.
Thanks for the update, Jacqueline. This is so sad. Only last week I drove by the old location--and it's still closed up, not leased by anyone.
Is there any update? Looks like something else is opening up in Cushing Square soon.
Come to Lexington. We need baked goods stores and family run businesses. Referral from another business owner in Lexington: Kathy Spaulding of Spaulding Management, who seeks out and places small businesses. The space in Lex Ctre previously occupied by the Candy Castle has been sitting vacant for ages. Also, what about the Watertown building that currently houses the Danish Pastry Shop--perhaps shared or adjacent space?
Is there any way the - apparently - now closed Kitchen on Common kitchen could be used?
As I understand this, it's not really the landlord's fault. Apparently the present location may be used for a retail purpose. A bakery requires extensive and expensive construction to meet safety regulations. I was thinking the same thing Paul Johnson (see below) was. Why not use a commercial kitchen for baking and the present location for assembly, decorating, and sales. I hope they find a solution. Ohlin's is missed and loved.
Who is the landlord and why will they not renew the lease?
I'm not sure if this is useful or even entirely accurate, but I seem to recall that Union Square Donuts got their start by producing their donuts without a store front (maybe in a rented commercial kitchen somewhere?) and sold their donuts from a cafe in Union Square during the morning hours until the supply ran out. My understanding of the arrangement was that it allowed them to get up and running without having to invest in the overhead of their own store, and was great for the Cafe "host" because it created lots of extra traffic for them. After a while I think they were able to afford their own space. Do you think this could be a path back to normal operations for Ohlins? I wonder if there would be a cafe in the Arlington / Belmont / Cambridge area that might be willing to enter into this type of agreement if you could find a place to bake?
So sorry to hear about this. Hoping and praying that you can find a suitable location in the area!