Aladdin’s Baking Co. looking to produce pita chips, croutons in Richmond Heights

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RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Aladdin’s Baking Co., which operates a store on East 13th Street and Carnegie Avenue in Cleveland, is planning to shift some of its operations to Richmond Heights.

During an online Zoom Planning & Zoning Commission meeting held Wednesday (Aug. 12), Aladdin’s co-owner Mitchell Nahra told of the company’s desire to bake pita chips and croutons at 26361 Curtiss Wright Parkway, in a building the company would also use for some light warehousing and offices.

Nahra and his brother, Rick Nahra, appeared during the meeting and told of how Aladdin’s, founded by their father 50 years ago, does its main manufacturing at the Carnegie location, where it bakes products and makes “grab-and-go” Middle Eastern foods.

Aladdin’s also owns a warehouse on Harvard Road, which is not totally suitable for the manufacturing that takes place there, Mitchell Nahra said.

“Rick and I have been looking for a new facility to expand our manufacturing, and what we do at that (Harvard manufacturing facility) is croutons and pita chips,” Mitchell Nahra said.

“We take our pita bread, we bake it and turn it into pita chips. We also work with some of the other baking companies, Orlando Baking Co., and turn their bread into croutons, and we have to warehouse them there (on Harvard), as well.”

The Richmond Heights building, he said, has 16-foot ceilings and, he believes, was built as a warehouse and later converted to include some offices. It is a brick building with a metal roof and has loading docks.

“We would move our entire operation from Harvard Road,” Mitchell Nahra said, “which would be a pita chip and crouton manufacturing line, and then ultimately, we anticipate our business expanding, and producing some pita bread there (in Richmond Heights).”

Nahra said he expects to bring 10 to 15 mostly full-time jobs to Richmond Heights, then later expand with even more jobs.

“The pita chip and crouton business is growing pretty rapidly,” he said.

“We will bring (pizza) ovens into the (Richmond Heights) facility,” Nahra said in response to a question from commission member Fred Cash. “There’s no smoke from the ovens. There’s really no smell. There is some heat produced, but it’s not really smoke.

“If there are smells, they probably would be good ones, I hope.”

Nahra said office space is tight at the Carnegie location, so it is likely that senior management and some staff members would be moved and have offices at the Richmond Heights location.

The 16,000-square-foot building now has but one tenant, a lawyer, who Nahra said could keep renting the space if Aladdin‘s purchases the approximately 38-year-old building. Aladdin’s has an agreement to purchase the building should zoning from its current industrial use be conditionally approved.

Not much increased truck traffic is expected in the area should Aladdin’s move in. Nahra said that Aladdin’s and Orlando’s are now supplying a Canadian customer with pita chips, which would mean one semi truck would leave the plant weekly.

“And,” he added, “there would be some traffic from our downtown facility, but most of that would be small trucks and vans, but really limited. Of course, we would have a truck come in with product, but it’s not a lot of truck traffic.”

Nahra, who said he and his brother grew up in Highland Heights, stated that Aladdin’s wouldn’t use Richmond Road much, but instead it would, in most cases, utilize Bishop Road to get to Curtiss Wright Parkway.

Speaking of why Aladdin’s is seeking to work out of the Richmond Heights building, Nahra said, “We like the location, we love Richmond Heights, and we like the fact that the facility has lots of loading docks in the back, so there’s options for larger trucks and smaller trucks.”

There are no plans for retail sales at the building.

The commission unanimously agreed to recommend the conditional use change in zoning so that Aladdin’s can operate at the site. The zoning issue will next go before City Council’s Planning & Zoning Committee on Sept. 1, then would require a full council vote of approval.

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