Kith & Kin Bakeshop & Bistro
Kith & Kin Bakeshop & Bistro is what we call a “hidden gem.” A place you’ve probably never heard of and once you do, you feel like you’ve known about it forever. Kith and Kin may be a quaint & unassuming operation located on a busy stretch of road but it’s a well-oiled full-service gluten-free operation that you need to know about and visit (like yesterday).
Lisa and Tim Jermyn’s journey to gluten-free entrepreneurship started close to home like so many other gluten-free origin stories. Their middle child was diagnosed with celiac disease leading to the diagnoses of their two other children and as you can imagine the course of their lives changed dramatically. Just like that Lisa was challenged with creating gluten-free versions of the foods her children had grown up loving. Ever up to the challenge; Lisa’s creation eventually led her to sell her products to businesses and cafes finally growing into a wholesale gluten-free baking operation.
Road to Success
In 2012 the bakery was featured in Buffalo News and after that feature interest in the bakery exploded. The only problem was the bakery wasn’t set up for retail. This interest kicked off the retail part of the operation. Since then Kith & Kin has moved twice, outgrowing its former spaces and finally landing in its current location on South Transit Road. The cafe addition was always part of the vision but happened sooner than planned due to the bakery’s overwhelming success.
Those early years of the retail operation weren’t without their fair share of challenges and hiccups. Learning the nuances of retail baking on the fly isn’t easy and those early challenges looked similar to what most small-scale retail food operators experience. Questions like how do we scale our operations? How much do you prepare to make money and limit food waste? A lot of it was trial and error but the Jermyns persevered.
From the beginning, Kith & Kin has marketed itself as a dedicated gluten-free establishment. This honesty and transparency came with their own set of unique challenges. Mainly overcoming the stigma and bias from the mainstream public that gluten-free is equivalent to taste-free. They learned to adapt the mantra that they made “good food that happens to be gluten-free” and found themselves winning food competitions across the city. Maintaining a consistent presence in the local food festival scene helped them build a loyal following and brand in the Buffalo and Lockport communities.
What to expect
Lisa and Tim have scaled their business into a small but mighty gluten-free bakery and eatery operation. The “bistro” is a full-service sit-down establishment with a menu that has everything from breakfast, to lunch, full-size salads, and of course a full bakery. Everything is gluten-free and the entire menu is scratch made in-house. Some of the most popular items in the bakery include childhood favorites like cut-out sugar cookies, chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies, sandwich bread, muffins, cupcakes, and on Saturday’s donuts. Most gluten-free folks are looking for replicas of their childhood favorites of which the bakery is stocked galore. They offer scratch-made cream puffs that will blow your mind.
There’s an expansive lunch & dinner menu including all-day breakfast. Tim loves to make pancakes, hand-cut Rueben with “unreal” rye bread, hand-breaded mozzarella sticks and fried mac & cheese balls. One of their most popular weekdays is Friday when they sell over 75 fish fry dinners. These numbers triple during lent.
I made the hour-plus trek to Kith & Kin on a beautiful sunny Thursday afternoon in mid-August. I intentionally took the scenic (non-thruway) route making my way to Lockport basically by taking Buffalo Road west. When I arrived, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the quaint (house) exterior that sits off a busy thoroughfare road in the center of the town. Upon walking in I was immediately greeted and welcomed by the staff who quickly found the owners, Lisa and Tim Jermyn. The hospitality was overflowing from the moment I stepped in. I was offered lemonade and our generous conversation commenced.
Tim and Lisa were like open books, telling me about the establishment’s origins and making sure I had everything I needed. Tim gave me a full tour of the operations including the back of the house, front of the house, the production kitchen, and their newly built event space that sits on the grounds.
I was like a kid in a candy store; eyes wide with so much gluten-free goodness to take in. As I’ve shared, the menu is expansive and there is a mix of traditional (but elevated) diner fare, with lunch specials, soups, sandwiches, burgers, pizza and so much more. What elevates Kith & Kin above most cafes or diners is that everything from the condiments and sauces to the bread is made from scratch. That means from scratch bread and rolls, homemade sauces, hand-breaded mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, onion rings, and more. Everything is delicious and always gluten-free. They take great care to source the highest quality gluten-free ingredients making sure that they offer celiac-friendly meals that are high quality and well-made. It took me a while to decide what to try first and I ended up ordering several items off the menu. For my late lunch/early dinner, I landed on the Pat Classic’s Burger, French Fries, and Appetizer Sampler that includes (2 each) mozzarella sticks, fried pickles, mac and cheese balls, and chicken fingers. If you are looking for lighter fare there are absolutely “healthier” options in soups and greens and a full “Brunch & Brinner” section on the menu. I ended my gluten-free food extravaganza with an assortment of items from the bakery including two types of sandwich bread and even a funnel cake. There’s hand-tossed, pizza, pancakes, paninis, and pasta; truly something for everyone. Everyone includes non-celiac folks as I had a wonderful conversation with a lovely elderly couple that frequently patronize the establishment because the food is that good.
Honestly, this is what makes Kith & Kin so unique. High-quality food that isn’t just good but great and that happens to be gluten-free. Every celiac’s dream. Why can’t every restaurant be this accessible?
If you go
Address: 5850 South Transit Road, Lockport NY 14094
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 11 AM – 8 PM
Available for: Private bookings, events and catering
For your first visit try: Pat’s Classic Burger and Hand-cut fries and the Appetizer Platter
Fun Fact: The building was once a doctor’s office and a dentist’s office