Ninth Street Bakery opened in the spring of 1981 as a retail bakery/cafe. The bakery was originally founded by: George and Frank Ferrell, two brothers; Maureen Ferrell, Frank’s wife; and Michael Mooney, Maureen’s brother. Since 1981, the Bakeries physical location and image has changed in accordance with its shift in focus from retail to wholesale. NSB first planted its roots on Ninth Street as a small café where Dain’s Bar is now. These early days were very successful, and as the business grew, so did its menu and reputation. In the ’80’s, the bakery was the dominant player in the organic/healthy cafe/ bakery market segment. In 1989, after outgrowing its original location, the cafe moved to a different spot on Ninth Street (where Elmo’s currently operates), separate from the bakery plant, and became a full-scale restaurant—serving everything from soup and salad to coffee and dinner entrees and desserts. In 1992, Ninth Street opened a bakery plant in Downtown Durham where it continues to operate along with its café. In 1996, the owners decided the restaurant portion of the business had become too time consuming and stressful, and they closed the restaurant. Elmo’s Diner bought the site and operates there today. In addition to the Ninth Street site, NSB had also developed satellite cafes in Raleigh and Chapel Hill that, although fairly successful, were eventually closed.
For the first 10 years of operation, NSB dominated the organic/whole grain bread market. Sales consistently increased from year to year. In fact, in 1992 the bakery relocated its production plant to downtown Durham in order to accommodate the increased demand. Along with the wholesale operation, a small retail take-out was opened in the front of the plant, selling primarily coffee and fresh pastries and cookies. Over time, that retail has grown into a cafe with seating, selling the original items as well as sandwiches, salads, curries, chili, and soups.
In Fall of 2013, Ari Berenbaum, an ex-Ninth Street baker and production manager (2009-2011), bought Ninth Street Bakery from the Ferrells (as well as Ray Jones, then a general manager and owner), who were looking to retire and were seeking someone who would keep the name and business intact.
NSB’s wholesale distribution of its breads and pastries covers Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Cary, and points west along I-85 to Greensboro.