The West Side Bazaar has done its job again. As a business incubator, The Bazaar offers fledgling entrepreneurs the opportunity to get up and running, without incurring the expenses that are typically associated with stand-alone storefronts. While many of the businesses at The Bazaar are content with operating in a shared environment for an extended period of time, upon occasion an entrepreneur will relocate to a brick and mortar location – once the owner has a firm handle on the operational aspects of the business, including retaining a solid customer base.
That’s exactly what has occurred with Radah Baked Goods (est. summer of 2021) – the owners, Lavenia and Lee Thomas, have opted to expand into a storefront at 247 Amherst Street, which was formerly a bike shop.
It was Lavenia who began her baking career at home, after Lee (who has a masters from Buffalo State in administration and student affairs) suggested that she make a career change.
“Typically, I use my training to help students navigate goals in life,” said Lee [chuckling]. “We were dating at the time, so I applied what I learned to help her go back to college. She had an artistic background, and was good at science, which are transferable skills when it comes to baking. She attended Culinary Arts at SUNY Erie, and now she’s teaching me!”
What originally started off in their home kitchen, eventually kicked into gear at The Bazaar. But it wouldn’t be long before they outgrew the 10’x10′ space, even with their home kitchen in full production mode.
“WEDI (Westminster Economic Development Initiative) turned out to be an excellent mentorship program,” said Lee. “The organization also allowed us to network, which is how we found the 900 square foot space in Black Rock. It was a bit rough, but the landlord sanded and stained the old floors, and I’m on my way there right now to paint. We’re putting a lot of hours into this. We’re embracing Black Rock – we wanted to be in a community, with a school nearby.”
I asked Lee why they didn’t plan on going along with The Bazaar, which held a ribbon cutting just yesterday for its new Niagara Street complex. He told me that the definition of Radah (Hebrew) is to have dominion, to rule, to dominate. They wanted to be a community-based bakery with their own flexibility, their own hours, and the ability to do whatever they want, whenever they want… Radah!
Lee also mentioned that they were the only American concept at The Bazaar, and that people were looking for overseas foods that were hard to find and unusual. While they were at The Bazaar, they made sure that they stood out – that their booth was an experience, in a similar vein as the rest of the incubator businesses. They will be taking this same approach with them, as they venture into their new space. There will be plenty of fun surprises.
Along with selling brownies, cupcakes, cookies, cakes, etc., Radah Baked Goods will be serving up a crowd favorite that is hard to find outside of amusement parks – Dippin’ Dots. They feel that the ice cream treat will be a big hit with families. They will also continue to concentrate on catering to weddings, birthday parties, and corporate events.
While there will not be a seating area at the Black Rock location, many of the treats can be purchased and eaten on the walk home. After all, a cupcake is best eaten right out of the case!
Finally, Lee told me that they will continue to support the non-profit community that is near and dear to their hearts.
“We like to give back in any way that we can,” said Lee. “We are so excited to be up and operational, so that we can continue to serve the community. That’s important to both of us.”
Radah Baked Goods will be opening in Black Rock this coming fall.