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Eastern Bakers Supply Co. Departure Reflects a Changing North Washington Street

After 60 years in Boston’s North End, Eastern Bakers Supply Co. is moving out from its North Washington Street location to the suburbs. Food service equipment distributors once dominated the area and Eastern Bakers departure is the latest “sign of the times” on the rapidly gentrifying street.

The third generation family-owned company has been in business for 71 years supplying the food and restaurant industry. Robert “Bobby” Kalustian runs the business today, with the help of his wife Julie Kalustian and a dedicated crew. Bobby started working at Eastern at the age of 5, riding around in with his father in a station wagon, making deliveries to bakeries around Boston. The Kalustians recently sold all their buildings on North Washington Street and are consolidating the business in the suburbs, ending the era of “Boston’s Bowery” district.

The properties along North Washington Street were bought by Ad Meliora for $10.5 million. The row of five parcels includes two commercial buildings totaling 25,000 square feet, a vacant lot, and a three-unit residential building. Plans are still being developed for the location, but Ad Meliora has been active in residential conversions at Boston churches and the Charlestown Navy Yard. Including the basements, the main building has 14 floors.

Decades ago, North Washington Street was the equivalent of the Bowery district in Manhattan, a place where any restaurant in town would come to purchase all of their goods to open up their facility – refrigerators, glassware, china, tables, pots, pans, knives, mixers—you name it, it was on these few blocks. Similarly in Boston, North Washington Street operated in the same fashion, with 8-10 Foodservice Equipment & Supplies distributors on one block of North Washington street, just around the corner from the TD Garden. One by one, the shop owners either closed up, retired or moved to the suburbs, leaving just Eastern Bakers Supply Co., Inc.

Eastern Bakers Supply Co., Inc. began in 1946 in Arlington, MA then moved to the North End in 1956. The sign out front was originally converted from an old drug store. Eastern Bakers Supply Co. trucks will still be doing deliveries all over Boston metro, just from a newer location, where all their inventory will be consolidated in the same location.

Eastern has supplied most of the restaurants, bars, bakeries, etc. in Boston at some point of their lifecycle. They currently service restaurant chains such as Anna’s Taqueria, Pizzeria Regina, Boston Beer Works and Clover, just to name a very few. They also service bakeries, school districts, the corporate world—anyone who has commercial kitchen needs. Nearby North End and Faneuil Hall customers have been known to walk over with their dollies to carry cases of items back to their stores. The supply company also sells retail, including to the North End and West End apartment and condo complexes.

North Washington Street has seen many conversions in the past few years. Across the street at 126 N. Washington, Eastern Bakers Supply Co. once operated another building that is now residential. In 2013, Michelle Holdings Inc. received zoning variances to change the former Tecce’s Restaurant location into twenty residential apartments. In the Bullfinch Triangle area, the proposal for 88 North Washington Street was recently approved to become a 14-story hotel. Construction will also start on the new Charlestown Bridge, a large-scale, multi-year project that will further change the neighborhood connections. [See more coverage on the ‘new’ N. Washington St. Bridge.]

Eastern Bakers Supply Co. moving sale will continue through August 2017 and the Kalustians welcome everyone to stop in at 145 N. Washington St. to take a look through the historic buildings along with the remaining discounted inventory … maybe pick up a new mixer, coffee pot or pizza pan!

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