Chestnut Hill Bake at Home Bounces Back
After struggling with a product the owner didn't believe in, the area pizza shop is turning a corner.
Chestnut Hill Bake at Home is still making its comeback.
In 2011, when the local pizza shop was still a part of the Mom's Bake-at-Home chain, local owner Barb Gunning was notified that Mom's was closing its bakery and switching from its traditional hand-made pie crusts to a pre-frozen product.
"We were given these pie crusts that were not hand-made or preservative free, and that was something this company had been built on." she said.
The impact on the pizza store was immediate, according to Gunning. For a pizza shop that had been in the area for 31 years, on Germantown Avenue until it moved to Willow Grove Avenue in 1999, its decline was dramatic.
"I lost 32 percent of my business in seven weeks," she said. "I couldn't tell my customers anything besides 'I have nothing else.'"
In the face of her loss, Gunning broke away from Mom's and began looking for her own supplies to make her bake at home pizzas.
"There was a lot of trial and error," she said. "My choice was to shut down the store and move on or find something else. I told someone at Mom's that I'd be closed in months if I used this product. I had to break away."
After a few months, Gunning found local bakeries to provide her with the pizza shells. She continues to focus on using fresh vegetables and sauce for her pizza.
Little by little, her customers are returning to the shop.
"I have this regular, Mr. Kern, who didn't come in for five months," she said. "He came in the other day and I asked him where he'd been, and he said that he'd had the other stuff twice and he couldn't come anymore."
More than the lost profits, however, Gunning wants to restore the sense of community her shop once had.
"I want my people back," she said. "You form relationships with people wen you work in retail. I know their kids and they know mine. There's a trust level involved. Before I couldn't look people in the eye, but now we're here again. This place has been in Chestnut Hill for 31 years. When I changed the name, I had to make it Chestnut Hill Bake at Home."