The smell of fresh bread is wafting back to Bainbridge Avenue.
In 2009, the Bainbridge Bakery in Norwood was gutted, and then completely demolished by a pair of fires in the span of seven months. Nearly two years after the second blaze — which struck just a few days before the business was set to reopen — Ana and Tony Mirdita, the couple that owns the bakery, are preparing to move into a new space on the same block. And neighborhood residents are hungrily waiting.
“My wife is more excited, because she likes their bread,” said Mark Goldberg, 71, who lives nearby. ”It’s nice that the bakery is open. Let’s hope this is the last time.”
In fact, the bakery’s new space, a former hair salon on Bainbridge between 205th and 206th streets, is still shuttered. A pair of homemade signs posted in the window declared that it is “coming back soon.”
In an interview on Friday, Tony Mirdita said that he had originally hoped to move the bakery back into its old spot on the block, which remains vacant following the second fire.
But Mirdita and his wife kept fielding questions about when they’d reopen, and when the old space was “not ready,” they opted for the new one, just up the block. Tony Mirdita said he hopes to start serving customers in about four weeks.
In 2009, the family suffered through an ordeal that Jimmy Cronin, a butcher at Hillside Meat Market on the same block as the new bakery, described as “a kick to the gut.”
After more than 15 years in the neighborhood, the Bainbridge Bakery was destroyed by a fire that April, though the business was insured.
Then, a five-alarm blaze early on the morning of Halloween that same year completely leveled the bakery, along with nine other businesses.
No one died in the fires, but they took a toll on the bakery. The second fire occurred on a Saturday, and the business had been planning to start serving customers in its renovated space the following week.
But because the bakery hadn’t opened, it was still uninsured, according to Fernando Tirado, the district manager for Community Board 7.
“It’s not that they didn’t have insurance, or didn’t want insurance,” he said in a phone interview. “They were literally a day away from getting the insurance.”
Tirado said that each business affected by the second fire received a $1,000 check from the city’s Department of Small Business Services for emergency expenses like cellular phones. But beyond that, he said, “there was no other assistance” from the city.
After the second fire, the Mirditas started a new business a few miles away in Williamsbridge, Ana’s Bakery, which will remain open.
In Norwood, residents said that the new storefront would be a welcome addition to the 10-block commercial strip on Bainbridge Avenue and East 204th Street, which lacks a bakery.
The area had suffered another blow when Foodtown, the local supermarket, was destroyed in a separate fire in December 2009. It reopened last spring.
“The fires drove people out,” said Tommy Murphy, 40. “People were leaving, because they had no place to get food.”
But Cronin, the butcher, said he thinks that the neighborhood still has an appetite for the cannoli and coffee that the Bainbridge Bakery used to sell.
“A lot of people go to work early in the morning — nothing’s open,” Cronin said. “People want good stuff, fresh stuff, and they’ll be there.”
In addition to the meat market where Cronin works, the bakery’s block also includes a fresh fish store, making it easier for Norwood residents to purchase food without straying too far from home.
“It makes it a community,” Tirado said.