FAIRBORN — The Neighborhood Nest, the Fairborn bakery that specializes in allergy-friendly and gluten-free baked goods, will be moving to a new location on Saturday, April 10. The Neighborhood Nest, the first “graduate” from kitchen incubator Spark Fairborn, hopes to use the new space to expand its retail business.
Amber Tipton, owner and founder of Neighborhood Nest, first came upon the idea of a gluten-free bakery based upon her lived experience. After homeschooling her children, Tipton began culinary school at Sinclair with the intention of opening a diner. Part of the way into her journey, her daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease. A year later, she was diagnosed with the same.
Celiac disease is a condition that causes damage to the small intestine whenever a person eats gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. As a culinary school student, Tipton decided to shift her focus and soon became a master at allergy-friendly foods.
The pastry chefs at Sinclair let her bring in tons of gluten-free ingredients, and she began to experiment.
“By the end of the semester, they couldn’t pick mine out of a lineup, even though it was gluten free,” Tipton said.
Over the next few years, Tipton sold her goodies at farmers markets or out of her own home until she became one of the first members of Spark Fairborn. The kitchen incubator and co-working space is dedicated to cultivating small businesses in downtown Fairborn.
“I said, ‘If you do a gluten-free part of it first, I will sign on the dotted line before its even completed,’ ” Tipton recalled.
Fairborn leaders have referred to the Neighborhood Nest as the “first graduate” of Fairborn Spark. Eventually, Tipton signed a lease for the space at 309 West Main Street, and business took off from there.
Neighborhood Nest currently operates as wholesale with limited retail. The bakery specializes not only in gluten-free options, but has expanded into dairy-free, peanut- and tree nut-free, and as of recently, 95 percent soy-free options. Tipton’s latest challenge is developing a keto-friendly line of goodies.
“The flour is nuts and seeds,” she explained. “Once the flour blend is fixed, I find a good recipe. There’s lots of keto recipes out there, but they’re not great all the time. I’ve read tons and tons of recipes, found ones that have good bones to it, and tweaked it so it has good moisture and good flavor.”
The Neighborhood Nest saw tremendous growth throughout the pandemic last year, and at this point has “badly outgrown” the space at 309 West Main Street.
“Last year was amazing,” Tipton said. “We did preorder with curbside contactless pickup. Because we deal with a lot of people that have immune deficiencies, and it was harder to find allergy-friendly food in stores, I think people felt safe doing that.”
The Nest’s new space at 313 West Main Street — two doors down — is two and a half times the space of its current location. The expanded floor space will allow Tipton to increase her retail sale presence, give customers a place to dine in, increase wholesale business, and hire more employees. Currently, four people work at the Neighborhood Nest, including herself. Tipton has already submitted plans to Greene County for her retail food license, which once approved will turn the Neighborhood Nest from its current operation into a potential community hub.
“I think people are badly wanting to shop in-store, but there’s still a lot of fear,” Tipton said.
Plans for a grand opening have not yet been finalized, pending changing regulations surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, but the focus going forward is on the food and the experience for people to spend time together.
“I think in food, I’ve always cooked for people. It has been a blessing to have that kind of mindset,” Tipton said.
Reach London Bishop at 937-502-4532 or follow @LBishopFDH on Twitter.