When Pigs Fly -
VisitingNewEngland small business partnership
When Pigs Fly, Kittery, Maine: Pizzeria, Artisan Breads,
Restaurant, Ale House, And... An Inspirational Small Business Story
Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz.
created on 4/10/2018.
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The Siegel brothers, Ron and Andrew, took a long, challenging and
meaningful business career road to arrive at their state-of-the-art
bakery and pizzeria in Kittery.
Bread is known as the staff of life but for brothers Ron and
Andrew Siegel, they also know that following a passion while pursuing
the small business American Dream supports life in ways they couldn't
have ever imagined.
Their flagship store, When Pigs Fly in Kittery, Maine, has accomplished
near impossible by attaining major New England tourist attraction
status as a bakery and pizzeria -- quite remarkable in an area (the
southern Maine coast) best known to
vacationers for its beaches, lighthouses, lobster dinners, gift and
souvenir stores, and shopping outlets. What's even more remarkable is
that it's incredible popularity happened within a short amount of time,
as the bakery and
pizzeria (the latter also featuring a full-service restaurant and
alehouse) opened at its current location in 2011.
The separate, but
connected When Pigs Fly Bread Store and Pizzeria offer some of the most
delicious breads and pizza in New England within beautifully
created settings, but there's also quite an inspirational story behind
The early years: humble beginnings and hard work transform into a
household name bread company
Pardon the pun, but it seems like the Siegels were born and
"bred" to own their own bread company. The Peekskill, N.Y.
natives -- who moved to the Maine seacoast as kids when their parents
fell in love with the area when on vacation -- knew that conventional
jobs just wouldn't cut it in their entrepreneurial DNAs. Ron, now 59,
didn't feel well-served in his
past career owning and working at restaurants, while accountant Andrew,
56, felt the constant measuring, processing and communication of
financial information just wouldn't add up in the long run.
"No, I didn't want to work in a cubicle the rest of my life," said
In 1993, Ron's breadmaking career started to rise, literally and
figuratively, but with humble origins. He first practiced baking loaves
out of his home and at The Cheese House in Moody, Maine. Andrew loved
the bread and decided to join Ron in the business about a year later,
moving all the way from California.
For about six months, the brothers worked 20-plus hour days taking on
two shifts of milling, rolling, baking, slicing, bagging and
delivering. Ron would go to work at 10 p.m., get home and then Andrew
would take the next shift until 2 p.m.
Ron and Andrew brought samples to
local stores and restaurants on a regular basis with, thankfully,
limited rejection from local businesses. The
passion kept them
going, knowing no other job would feel this good despite the punishing
schedule in the early years for these two brothers with families.
"I would have (rather) died before giving up on bread making," said Ron.
The prospects of owning a bread company, however, ultimately
begged for that one big break. Hannaford Brothers Company, a
Maine-based supermarket chain, unfortunately, initially rejected the
"They didn't want it," said Andrew. "But the Wells (Maine) Hannaford
was making its own bread that was just too costly for them. We
approached them, told them we couldn't get into corporate and they said
'Don't worry,' and started selling our bread."
The corporate Hannaford eventually started selling the Siegel's
bread, more accounts materialized and the Siegels gradually hired more
employees. Relocating and expanding a few times in York, Maine (their
adopted hometown) paved the way to the
state-of-the-art When Pigs Fly Kittery location in 2011.
When Pigs Fly Bread Store (Company Store) and Pizzeria in Kittery.
Today, Ron and
90 in the bakery and 60 in the restaurant. What started as Ron making
80 loaves of bread by hand and with basic appliances on his first night
in the business has led to 12,000 loaves of bread made each day with
equipment. Despite that huge growth, When Pigs Fly has definitely
not sacrificed its initial vision or quality. All breads are made from
scratch every day using unbleached, all natural flour milled to strict
When Pigs Fly specification, and the grains remain all natural, as
well. All other ingredients are prepared on the premises, including
roasting its own onions.
What to do with all those ingredients, however, makes the difference
between a good bread and a great one, and that's where Ron's genius
comes in. You can't teach this stuff. His knack for making a
memorable-tasting bread is uncanny and the attention to detail is
remarkable: it takes about 36 hours to bake a loaf of When Pigs Fly
Savory cranberry bread from When Pigs Fly.
and other food and specialty stores sell When Pigs Fly Bread in
Maine, Massachusetts New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island,
New York and New Jersey. Additionally, When Pigs Fly sells
bread at local farmers markets
in New England and has opened retail
stores -- in addition to Kittery -- in
Freeport, Maine, Jamaica Plain (Boston), Mass. and Brookline, Mass.
The Siegel brothers have indeed come a long way from the days when they
fall asleep on flour bags because of overwhelming work
fatigue, as well as Ron refinancing his 1990 Toyota 4Runner for $4k to
start the business.
"I always knew if we had a plan, there would be light at the end of the
tunnel," said Andrew.
The Home Store (Bakery) at When Pigs Fly: amazing all natural
The Bread Store at When Pigs Fly in Kittery.
The bread side of When Pigs Fly in Kittery looks like a
lively farmers market
with up to 30 varieties of classic and artisan specialty breads, a
well as cookies, cakes, specialty
food items, clothing, coffees, teas, and
mugs. The bread-lovers-dream-come-true destination features a spacious,
clean well laid
out space that allows customers breathing room to browse basket after
basket of breads.
The overall experience comes with a big challenge, however. Each bread
looks so tempting to bag that it's hard to know what to buy first.
can often decide at the sampling station, while others already know
what to buy from past experiences or by intuition.
While many know the When Pigs Fly brand through their local
supermarkets in New England, it's an entirely different thing seeing
all breads under
one roof. For starters, customers will find plenty of traditional
breads like pumpernickel, rye and sourdough.
Sourdough bread from When Pigs Fly in Kittery.
The offbeat shares equal space with the traditional breads to make for
one-of-a-kind experience. Some examples: the baby spinach, onion and
ciabatta, the mango,
pineapple and raisin bread with toasted sesame and ginger, cranberry
bread, apple cinnamon
bread, and a full-bodied chocolate bread.
Chocolate bread from When Pigs Fly.
One of the most reassuring elements when shopping at When Pigs Fly is
the full disclosure ingredient signs. In a mass-produced world of
breads that include questionable to downright dangerous ingredients
like butylated hydroyanisole (BHA), partially hydrogenated oils and
potassium bromate, When Pigs Fly takes a gentler, more simple route
with just a few all natural ingredients. That business model speaks
volumes that simplicity -- when combined with a passion and creativity
for bread-making -- creates absolute magical tasting bread.
Apple cinammon bread from When Pigs Fly.
And for those who need an additional mouthwatering variation to the
breads, many of the cookies and cakes are out-of-this-world good (the
lemon and Maine blueberry bread pudding cake is particularly
Mouthwatering baked goods from When Pigs Fly Bakery in Kittery.
"We knew we had a great product."
said Andrew, of the breads and everything else that followed. "We
needed to grow
in a logical way, and here we are."
When Pigs Fly Pizzeria: a welcoming pizzeria, restaurant and
Pepperoni pizza from When Pigs Fly Pizzeria in Kittery.
Ron basically despised his jobs of the past working at, and
"I know, as we sit in one now," said Ron with a sense of irony.
The unhappiness of restaurant life actually spurred Ron to go a
different route by following a passion to create breads. While that
sweet dream clearly became fully realized, Ron had no desire to venture
any more career restaurant business nightmares.
"Those were some of the most miserable times of my life," said Ron, of
working in the restaurant industry. "It just wasn't for me. But as
painful as it was, there was something that kept me going... to want to
open a restaurant again."
Pausing and reflecting about that time, Ron stated in a short,
matter-of-fact way a major factor to once again open a restaurant.
"I love pizza," said Ron. "I grew up with New York City pizza. That is
something I wanted to create."
Ron bought a few wood-fired pizza ovens that sat on the front lawn
of the restaurant until it was completed, and now take up residence as
an eye catching attraction that plays an integral role in the pizza's magnificent taste.
Wood-fired pizza oven at When Pigs Fly Pizzeria in Kittery.
"Ron always liked doing things a bit differently, so this was a chance
to create things his way," said Andrew.
That vision can be seen instantly upon walking into When Pigs Fly
Pizzeria. It's a beautiful restaurant that looks unlike any others in
the region with its stunning, expansive industrial look, wood
furnishings, metal fixtures and capacity to seat 160 people. There's
also a screened in farmer's porch,
back deck and a handsome beer and wine bar.
Dining and bar area at When Pigs Fly Pizzeria in Kittery.
The wood-fired, Neopolitan style pizzas are handmade from all natural
ingredients and have a delicious taste with a chewy sourdough-like
crust, smoky flavor and fresh tasting tomato and cheese blend that
includes mozzarella that is made fresh daily. More than 15 pizza
options include the signature Margherita (red sauce, oregano, basil,
mozzarella, Romano), Marinara, pepper and Italian
Sausage, medjool date and soppressata salami, grilled pineapple and
capcicola, meatball, eggplant and basil ricotta pesto, BBQ chicken,
four cheese pizza, Italian spicy sausage and mushroom, chicken and
bacon, roasted beet pizza, and mushroom pizza.
Margherita pizza from When Pigs Fly Pizzeria.
If any of these sound
basic, think again and check the When
Pigs Fly pizza menu to discover all the unusual
yet wonderful combinations that comprise these pizzas! As an example,
the mushroom pizza is much more than that with a roasted garlic
ricotta base, herb white wine roasted mushrooms, Balsamic onion and
fontina, and topped with arugula, truffle aioli and Romano cheese.
Eggplant and basil ricotta pesto pizza from When Pigs Fly
While the wood-fired pizzas remain the big draw at When Pigs Fly
Pizzeria, the Siegel brothers have made sure to offer customers a full
service restaurant with delicious, traditional and contemporary snacks,
salads, sandwiches and desserts. As
expected, the When Pigs Fly menu offers some creative offerings
like crispy Brussels
sprouts, avocado toast with an egg and mixed greens, seared fish taco,
Thai curry mussels and the
oversized Bavarian pretzels served with housemade cheddar cheese beer
sauce and dijon mustard.
Oversized pretzels from When Pigs Fly Pizzeria.
Avocado toast with egg and mixed greens from When Pigs Fly
Pizzeria. Photo credit: When Pigs Fly.
Salads include kale, Greek, garden, Caesar and
arugula, and sandwiches like the turkey BLT, Italian grinder, corned
Reuben, a Maine grass fed burger, pastrami, tuna salad and a meatball
sub. They also serve chicken wings including plain, Korean, buffalo and
hot honey glaze.
Greek salads from When Pigs Fly Pizzeria.
Grass fed burger from When Pigs Fly Pizzeria. Photo
credit; When Pigs Fly Facebook fan page.
If anyone has room for dessert, ice cream sandwiches, a ginger
granita (fresh fruit compote and ginger shaved ice) and a humongous
homemade brownie sundae will more than satisfy the sweet tooth.
Brownie sundae from When Pigs Fly Pizzeria. Photo credit: When
Pigs Fly Facebook fan page.
The When Pigs Fly Pizzeria drinks menu offers a
comprehensive selections of beers on tap and
bottles and cans, draft and bottled wines, cocktails and spirits. Many
of the beers on tap are local including Marshall Wharf Satan's Doorbell
and Allagash White (Maine), Springdale Barrel Room Brigadiero
(Massachusetts), Earth Eagle Smokestack Lightning (New Hampshire) and
Citizen Cider Dirty Mayor (Vermont).
Bar area at When Pigs Fly in Kittery.
A small business recipe for success
When Pigs Fly Bread Store and Pizzeria are open year-round,
bringing in a robust customer base every month of the year. That's not
always the case in the southern Maine and New Hampshire seacoast region
known for many seasonal businesses, but the
Siegels believe they offer "something for everyone" and a "business is
as good as the people who work there," according to Andrew. The core
staff works year-round, shows exemplary work habits and know-how, and,
generally, brings mature, personable customer service that clearly
benefits the overall experience for locals and travelers. When Pigs Fly
Head Chef Ashley Labell and Manager Ryan McNally clearly bring a lot to
the When Pigs Fly table along with their teams.
"We like to share our success with the people who work here," said
Andrew. "It wouldn't be possible without them."
With all the success, Ron and Andrew have definitely not gone
"Holywood" or taken on the role of self-absorbed, pretentious food
the contrary, they are humble, reflective, grateful and hard-working,
to this very day, as on-site owners with a work ethic as healthy as an
ambitious younger person trying to make it into the work world.
"We always remember that the most important thing about being in a job
is that it's exciting and something to look forward to," said Andrew.
When Pigs Fly is
located at 460 US Route 1 in Kittery ME. Tel. 207-438-7036. When Pigs
Fly Bread Store Web site: http://www.sendbread.com. When Pigs Fly Pizzeria web site: http://www.whenpigsflypizzeria.com.
When Pigs Fly Bread Store Facebook
fan page: https://www.facebook.com/WPFKittery/. When Pigs Fly Pizzeria Facebook fan page:
Twitter address: http://www.twitter.com/wpfbread.
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