Acclaimed Dallas bakery Empire Baking Company is opening a second location, making its sourdough bread and other items available for the east side of Dallas.
The bakery will open a storefront at its wholesale production facility at 5614 E. University Blvd., with a goal of opening in early spring.
"It's a smaller space, so we'll have a smaller selection, but we'll definitely sell the breads, pastries, and sandwiches we're known for," says co-owner Meaders Ozarow. "And then sometimes at the bakery, we try R&D experiments and less formalized items that we wouldn't bother bringing to the Inwood store, so that'll be sold exclusively at the new space."
Empire introduced sourdough bread to Dallas in 1992, when it opened its first bakery at the Shops of Highland Park on Oak Lawn Avenue. In the '00s, they shifted their focus to restaurants and wholesale, with just one retail shop in Inwood Village at Inwood and Lovers Lane.
The pandemic has turned that formula upside down, with a major increase in retail sales, and with it, a newfound awareness of the role a bakery can play.
"One thing we've come to realize is how community-anchored bakeries are, especially since the pandemic, where we've seen so many people who want to come out to their local bakery and visit every day," Ozarow says. "We'd like to have that same kind of community near our bakery, as well as service all of our customers who live in east Dallas. I used to live over there and there's no easy drive from that area to Inwood Village."
In 2018, they almost opened a store at The Hill, the mixed-used development at the northeast corner of US-75 and Walnut Hill Lane, but the space was unfinished and required more investment than anticipated. (The location was subsequently taken by Hello Dumpling, the popular East Dallas dumpling shop, who confirm they are currently doing construction and hope to open in late spring.)
Empire actually did once have a small counter at their University Boulevard facility, but it was mostly a convenience and never marketed as a retail destination.
"This was 18 years ago, and so much has changed since then," Ozarow says. "That area along University has become so much more developed, with apartments and restaurants."
At the new space, they'll have croissant, cookies, bread, "good coffee," and grab-and-go sandwiches.
"I feel like it's not easy to find a good sandwich in Dallas, where you can get something quick and affordable that's also worth eating — using good bread and making it the basis of your sandwich really changes the quality," she says.