At a 6,200-square-foot bakery in Frogtown, the floors are coated in flour and a row of bakers stand elbow to elbow, kneading out giant balls of dough into the day’s loaves. The smell of fresh bread fills every corner. Something good is always cooking at Bub and Grandma’s, one of Los Angeles’ most coveted wholesale bakeries. There’s a Glassell Park sandwich shop coming this fall, another bakery location in the distant future, and maybe even a cookbook. Then there is Andy Kadin, former ad man turned bread connoisseur, and the guy who started it all.
Kadin is a lanky 6’3”, wearing a uniform of denim and work boots. Stubble lines his face and he seems both harried and endlessly patient. He tells his story in rapid-fire sentences, vignettes of life before and after Bub and Grandma’s. All this success, all this bread. It’s something he himself still seems a little stunned by. Currently, they deliver orders daily to restaurants like Osteria Mozza, Kismet, Sqirl, and Konbi — and have a waitlist of 100 more hopefuls itching to work with them. They’re beloved at the Hollywood Farmers Market, where their glazed donuts have become something of legend.
“We do the work,” Kadin says with a shrug, “I feel like because of my past and because of how much I loathed my former life, I owe it to myself to do this without leaving myself with any regrets. It requires immense amounts of work.”
He walks around the two-story bakery. Every inch pulses with activity: bread going in ovens, onto metal racks, into brown bags. Delivery drivers rush loaves out the door. They are reconfiguring the space, Kadin says, mixing in one room, expansive walk-in refrigerators in another. They’re installing an elevator, and an additional oven so they can churn out even more loaves to the cultish masses.
“I wouldn’t trade any bread maker for Andy,” says Akira Akuto, co-founder of Konbi, a sandwich shop in Echo Park and one of L.A. Weekly’s 2019 People of the Year. “I would put him up against anyone in New York, anyone in this country. We’ve said that from beginning and people thought we were crazy, but it’s true.”
This all started because Kadin dreamed of leaving his job as an ad copywriter. It took him upwards of three years to realize that what he wanted to do instead was open a sandwich shop. Of course, he would need the right bread. Nothing in L.A. ticked all the boxes, so he started baking loaves at home in 2014.
“If I was going to do this I would have to explain to a bread baker what I wanted,” he says. “I had to know how bread worked.”
He turned to popular cookbooks — Tartine and Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast first, which he found somewhat flawed. Then he went to blogs, like “The Fresh Loaf” which was a more “bread nerd obsessive weirdo place,” where he eventually homed in on what he wanted and started documenting his own processes.
Around this time, Scott Zweizen, owner of Atwater Village restaurant Dune, asked him to make their daily bread order. Kadin said yes while continuing to bake exclusively out of his home kitchen in Mount Washington. He then graduated from his “Home Depot oven” to a pizza oven down the road from his place (not ideal for bread baking, too dry). After accounts started hopping on the Bub and Grandma’s bandwagon, he had to find an industrial bakery space.
“Great bread is an utter necessity for a great sandwich,” says Zweizen, who said he wanted to do a Middle Eastern take on a classic hippie sandwich when he first sampled Kadin’s bread. “The ciabattas just got better and better. Over time we talked about a sour rye. Again, he nailed it. Just beautiful bread.”
It was the beginning of something big, but Kadin was too immersed in figuring out how to run everything as a one-man show to focus on their popularity. In five years, the company grew to a 43-person team, maintaining nearly 150 accounts citywide. They currently make upwards of 2,000 loaves per day, going through around 7,000 pounds of flour each week.
In 2016, he brought in his friend and pastry chef Christopher Lier (formerly of Mozza) to help run the bakery and expand into pastries. Lier will have his own pastry kitchen in the new sandwich shop. “He can make all the pies and cakes and croissants and everything that he’s ever wanted to do,” says Kadin. “He can showcase his genius.”
When faced with the stress of opening a new restaurant, Kadin finds it almost a relief. He has funding, a full staff, a clear vision about the food. He has a lease on a 2,800-square-foot space in Glassell Park with built-in skylights, and a recipe for the perfect BLT. He had none of these when launching his bakery business. Starting it all from scratch was Herculean in effort, but worth it. He finally found his perfect sandwich bread; he just had to make it himself.