For 11 years, Andy and Jackie King shared the one office — with its single desk and computer — at A&J King Artisan Bakers in downtown Salem.
But since August, the couple has been settling into a new storefront and production center at 139 Boston St. that more than doubles their space. The previous location on Central Street remains open as a retail shop.
“I thought I would be more nostalgic,” Jackie said. “For a long time I didn’t want to even consider leaving the space where we started it all. But we realized we could not keep going in that space.”
The new location is close to the Peabody line, and it’s now where all of the baking happens. Jackie said the only chang is efficiency. Bakers now have more room, better lighting, and new equipment to perfect their products.
A&J King Artisan Bakers serves pastries such as scones, sticky buns, and brownies for prices under $5, along with daily breads and made-to-order sandwiches for under $10. They also offer seasonal items: October’s menu featured apple cinnamon scones and cornmeal pumpkin hearth bread.
Jackie said artisan baking means the process is very technique-driven, and the products lean on classics.
“Take a croissant: It stands alone very well if you do it right,” Jackie said. “That’s a big part of our pastry program here, and it always has been.”
Barry Edelman, owner of 5 Corners Kitchen in Marblehead, has been buying bread from Andy and Jackie for about seven years.
“Their pain au levain, that’s vital to my menu,” said Edelman of the sourdough bread. “It’s their simplest options that show how highly skilled they are and how much they care.”
The Kings first bonded over their similar outlook on artisan baking when they met at culinary school in 2001. They soon began dating, and worked together at a bakery in Portland, Maine. Eventually, they moved to the North Shore and put everything they had into opening the bakery in downtown Salem.
“When we first opened, it was quite a big space,” Andy said. “Eleven years ago, it was enough to be a coffee house with some pastries.”
Over the years, they’ve grown their menu, their staff, and their reach. Their products can be found in Whole Foods stores in the area, and at over 20 other restaurants and stores across the North Shore and in Boston. They’ve also grown their family: the couple now has two kids.
Andy said their business has had to grow as Salem has developed and attracted more craft manufacturers, such as Notch Brewery and cookie shop Goodnight Fatty.
“It’s not just hot new restaurants,” he said. “There’s product being made in Salem. You can go have tastings, or take tours.”
The creative environment opens the door to potential collaborations for the bakery, something the couple is interested in now that they have the space to experiment.
“We’re back to where we were when we first opened,” Andy said, “with a large space and a lot of ideas.”Laura Elyse King can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @lauraelyseking.