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When Pigs Fly, Kittery, Maine: Wood Fired Pizzeria, Bread Store, Restaurant, Ale House and... An Inspirational Small Business Story

Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article created on 4/10/2018.

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Brothers Ron and Andrew Siegel own When Pigs Fly Bakery in Kittery, Maine.

The Siegel brothers, Ron and Andrew, took a long, challenging and meaningful business career road to arrive at their state-of-the-art bread store, bakery and wood fired 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 the near impossible by attaining major New England tourist attraction status as a bread store, bakery and wood fired 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 wood fired pizza in New England within beautifully created settings, but there's also quite an inspirational story behind it all.

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 Andrew.

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 Siegel's bread. 

"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 in Kittery, Maine: Pizzeria, artisan breads, Restaurant and Alehouse

When Pigs Fly Bakery and Pizeria in Kittery, Maine
When Pigs Fly Bread Store (Company Store) and Pizzeria in Kittery.

Today, Ron and Andrew employ 90 in the bread store/ 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 state-of-the-art 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 bread.

When Pigs Fly Cranberry Bread from the flagship store in Kittery, Maine
Savory cranberry bread from When Pigs Fly.

Supermarkets 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 Newburyport, Mass., Freeport, Maine, Jamaica Plain (Boston), Mass. and Brookline, Mass. (Coolidge Corner).

The Siegel brothers have indeed come a long way from the days when they would 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 breads and baked goods 

The Bakery at When Pigs Fly in Kittery, Maine, sells 30 loaves of homemade breads, as well as cakes, cookies and specialty food items.
The Bread Store at When Pigs Fly in Kittery.

The bread store at 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. Customers 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 flagship store in Kittery, Maine
Sourdough bread from When Pigs Fly in Kittery.

The offbeat shares equal space with the traditional breads at the bread store to make for a one-of-a-kind experience. Some examples: the baby spinach, onion and garlic 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 bakery in Kittery, Maine.
Chocolate bread from When Pigs Fly.

One of the most reassuring elements when shopping at the When Pigs Fly bread store 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.

Simple ingredients from When Pigs Fly in Kittery, Maine yield some amazing tasting breads.
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 outstanding)...

Baked goods from the When Pigs Fly flagship store in Kittery, Maine
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 wood fired pizzeria restaurant and alehouse

Pepperoni pizza from When Pigs Fly Pizzeria in Kittery, Maine
Pepperoni pizza from When Pigs Fly Pizzeria in Kittery.

Ron basically despised his jobs of the past working at, and owning restaurants.

"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 into 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 oven at When Pigs Fly Pizzeria in Kittery, Maine
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 wood fired pizzeria, restaurant and bar. It's a beautiful space 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.

When Pigs Fly Pizzeria dining room and bar, Kittery, Maine
Dining and bar area at When Pigs Fly Wood-Fired Pizzeria 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.

When Pigs Fly margherita pizza
Margherita pizza from When Pigs Fly Pizzeria.

If any of these sound basic, think again and check the When Pigs Fly menu to discover all the unusual yet wonderful combinations that comprise these wood fired pizzas! As an example, the mushroom pizza is much more than that with a roasted garlic rosemary ricotta base, herb white wine roasted mushrooms, Balsamic onion and fontina, and topped with arugula, truffle aioli and Romano cheese.

Eggplant pizza from When Pigs Fly Pizzeria in Kittery, Maine
Eggplant and basil ricotta pesto pizza from When Pigs Fly Pizzeria.

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.

Bavarian pretzels from When Pigs Fly Pizzeria in Kittery, Maine
Oversized pretzels from When Pigs Fly Pizzeria.

Avocado toast dish from When Pigs Fly in Kittery, Maine
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 beef 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.

When Pigs Fly Greek salads, Kittery, Maine
Greek salads from When Pigs Fly Pizzeria.

Grass fed burger from When Pigs Fly Pizzeria in Kittery, Maine
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.

Homemade brownie sundae from When Pigs Fly in Kittery, Maine
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 at When Pigs Fly in Kittery, Maine
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 celebrities. On 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: When Pigs Fly Pizzeria web site: When Pigs Fly Bread Store Facebook fan page: When Pigs Fly Pizzeria Facebook fan page:
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