Article was originally featured in the Cincinnati Business Courier.
Skally’s Old World Bakery plans to build a 58,000-square-foot freezer warehouse and 345,000-square-foot production facility in Harrison Township.
By Tom Demeropolis
– Senior Staff Reporter, Cincinnati Business Courier
Nov 14, 2017, 2:58pm EST
Updated Nov 14, 2017, 4:22pm
A massive bakery facility is going to be built on the west side of Hamilton County.
Skally’s Old World Bakery Inc. has purchased nearly 95 acres of land in Harrison Township to build a 345,000-square-foot bakery building with a 58,000-square-foot freezer warehouse. Drew Skally, co-founder of Skally’s, said the company has been looking for a property to expand for four years. The Harrison Township property will give Skally’s the ability to meet new baking rules and regulations, as well as expand into the future.
“We can get by now, but with all the changes, it might become outdated in the future,” Drew Skally said.
In the first phase alone, Skally’s is looking to invest about $40 million. The North College Hill-based company produces 25,000 bagels an hour in more than 20 varieties and is sold not only under its own brand but as the private label for big brands. Skally’s also makes pita bread in its current facility and distributes its products in 40 states.
The company is landlocked at its location at 1933 W. Galbraith Road. It’s looking to triple production up to 75,000 bagels per hour and expand into different product lines. The most popular of Skally’s bagels is the plain bagel. But the Skallys say they can compete with others by offering more variety and the best ingredients.
Skally’s first started in 1977 when a New York family moved to Cincinnati after the Skally patriarch, Ephraim Skally, got a job with Federated Department Stores, back in its pre-Macy’s days.
Drew Skally originally intended on going through medical school but ended up helping his brother Ephraim Skally Jr., and sisters Jennifer Skally and Cheryl Deleon start the bakery. He had every intention of going back to school to earn a master’s or doctorate in physiology but ended up tied to the family business.
Skally’s plans to start construction on the freezer portion of the project first, looking to begin in spring 2018. The development will be located off Southwest Parkway.
This map shows the nearly 95-acre site Skally’s Old World Bakery will be purchasing for its expansion.
Once the freezer is completed, construction would start on the production building, which is expected to be a one- to three-year period. Longer term, Skally’s is looking at an additional 800,000 square feet of production, warehouse and freezer space off of Kilby Road. A future test restaurant also is being considered on the first phase site.
The freezer expansion is expected to create 10 jobs. Skally’s estimates each new production line will create 40 jobs, so at completion the first phase could create more than 200 new jobs.
Skally’s is starting with the freezer expansion because it doesn’t have enough space at its current facility, especially when it comes to freezer space.
“If a truck driver is late, his product is in the way of the next two trucks coming,” Drew Skally said.
The freezer warehouse will be built by Tippman Construction, part of Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Tippman Group, which specializes in temperature controlled processing and distribution facilities.
Eventually, this site could be home to 1.2 million square feet of development including office, production, warehouse and freezer.
Skally’s is purchasing the land from Schueler Group-organized investors for about $6 million. Jeff Eichhorn, executive vice president with Schueler Group, represented the sellers in the deal.
Harrison Township is the third location Skally’s looked at for this massive expansion. Originally, the company looked to open a new facility in Liberty Township, but that project was opposed by residents. Then, Skally’s selected a site in West Harrison, Ind. for its new facility, but that project also fell through.
So when Drew Skally went driving looking for property for the expansion, he came across the Harrison Township site. There, he saw a big orange sign with Eichhorn’s name and number on it. Drew Skally called Eichhorn from the site and he met the Skally’s there the next day.
“A big orange sign still works every now and then,” Eichhorn said.
The Harrison Township site is 1 minute off Interstate 74 and 17 minutes from Skally’s existing facility in North College Hill. Ephraim Skally Jr., CEO of Skally’s, said all the previous sites the company had looked at were farther out.
“This is the perfect site for us and it worked out really well,” Ephraim Skally Jr. said. “We have enough land in a good location to go into the future now matter what our needs are.”
Eichhorn said the expansion project would not be possible without Hamilton County approving a zoning change for the project, Harrison Township paying for road improvements and the city of Harrison expanding sanitary sewer to the site.
Bunnell Hill Construction, part of Schueler Group, is coordinating site work and will be building the future bakery. CT Consultants is the site engineer.
As for the existing plant on West Galbraith Road, Ephraim Skally Jr. said they plan to keep it indefinitely. As production ramps up in Harrison Township, they could convert it to an organic or gluten-free facility, use it for other products, or continue to use it as a commissary for its restaurants.
On Monday, my colleague Andy Brownfield broke the news that Skally’s Old World Bakery would be opening its second restaurant in the Streets of West Chester.