Ian Herrington was working as a professional baker at Cleveland Heights’ On The Rise Artisan Breads for eight years, and, as he worked his way up to head baker, he began to dream of his own space.
“I sketched out my business plan over a number of years,” he told me when we sat down to discuss Leavened’s upcoming one year anniversary. That was well before the meetings with Sustainable Community Associates, architects, or engineers. Early on, the vision was simply to bring locally sourced, artisan baked goods to Cleveland’s Near West side. In an interview with Central Kitchen, he said, “My goal for Leavened is to be your favorite corner café, filled with the amazing aromas of fresh baked breads and pastry. I want people to come in, feel relaxed, and order a latte and a croissant, and sit and watch the world go by.”
When considering specific locations, Ian had Tremont on his list—along with Detroit Shoreway and Ohio City—before he connected with SCA.
“When thinking about The Tappan, we wanted a tenant that emanated the same kind of warmth and conviviality that our buildings share. A bakery felt like the sort of tenant that could contribute most to that fabric,” SCA’s Josh Rosen said, adding, “It helped that working with Ian was an opportunity to support someone who had worked so long in the field and who was so driven to opening their own establishment.”
In the end, Tremont proved to be the perfect fit. “I adore this street and this community,” Ian said. “It has an urban feel, but it’s not overcrowded—and the energy is increasing. I know in the next ten years Scranton will look very different.”
Ian himself wants to be part of building that future for the neighborhood. “Anyone looking for fresh, artisan bread a year ago would have had to go to Cleveland Heights or Lakewood,” Ian said. Now, Leavened fills that gap for the Near West neighborhoods. As he noted in an interview with Sophia Fang, he wanted to create a gathering place—one that brought people together for artisanal baked goods, pastries, espresso, and, ultimately, community.
“Bakeries can build communities and neighborhoods,” Ian told me, citing the impact of On The Rise on Cleveland’s East side. Leavened attracts numerous individuals from across the city. It’s accessible for walkers, MetroHealth workers, and for people from all over Cleveland and its surrounding neighborhoods.
The bakery has been called a “true Main Street business,” partially for its ability to bring people together, and has seen community support from the start, including a highly successful crowdfunding campaign with Honeycomb Credit. And, if the last year is anything, it's a testament to that bond between community and bakery. Despite opening in the midst of the pandemic, Leavened has built a dedicated following. It served as a safe, reliable stop through the end of 2020 and into 2021. Today, with indoor seating finally available in the space, it’s transforming into that corner cafe that Ian dreamed it would become. Already, Leavened feels like a fixture of South Tremont.
As to the years ahead, Ian plans to focus on Leavened, experimenting with bakes, and being present in the neighborhood and his bakery. “I believe in being in my business.” He said, “I’m here for the long haul.”
Find Ian and his crew in the bakery, located in The Tappan at 1633 Auburn Avenue in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood. They’re opening Tuesdays through Sundays, hours vary. More information can be found at leavenedcle.com.