A tide of water has swept through Hell’s Kitchen’s beloved Sullivan Street Bakery — flooding them ahead of one of the busiest weeks of the year.
Bakery owners Jim Lahey and Maya Joseph told W42ST that the flood occurred Friday evening, causing water to rush the ground floor of their W47th Street location which also serves as the operations center for the brand. Firefighters and DEP workers were forced to don full-body water suits and wield pickaxes to cut off the rushing water as they worked to contain the damage.
W42ST contacted 311 to inquire about the cause of the flooding as well as the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). A representative from 311 was not able to confirm the status of the break, and a representative from the DEP told W42ST that after arriving on scene DEP crews determined that a pipe had burst within the interior of the building, though Lahey and Joseph noted that the cause was still under investigation.
Lahey later posted on the bakery’s Instagram: “We have a massive water leak here on 47th street — not sure yet if it’s a water main break, or something else, but we are flooded with nearly a foot of water and will be out of operation for several days. We will not be able to deliver to our wholesale customers, and our Hell’s Kitchen store will be closed for at least this weekend. SoHo is closed as well, but we will be open in Chelsea with some items. Thanks for your patience while we assess the damage and how to get everything back in order.”
Lahey sent W42ST a video walk-through, showing the rooms of the bakery that were all submerged by rising flood water. Workers can be seen scrambling to get the bread that already had been baked and ready for distribution above the rising water. In the video Lahey can be seen making sure that none of the bread was being splashed in the hope of getting deliveries out to the hundreds of New York restaurants served by the bakery. The popular local coffee shop was flooded too, with staff using bags of flour to try to stem the flood.
Sullivan Street — which delivers bread to over 300 New York restaurants — was founded by Lahey, who, after originally setting out to be a sculptor, studied bread making (including with the neighborhood’s own Amy Scherber) before setting out on his own in 1994. His popular, Italian-influenced flavors and fresh loaves quickly earned Sullivan Street a spot on the city’s competitive baking map, and in 2006, led him to worldwide acclaim when The New York Times published his No-Knead Bread Method as their recommended technique for baking.
In 2015, Lahey was the first recipient of the Outstanding Baker James Beard Award and was inducted into the foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” in 2016.
Lahey is the author of the acclaimed My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method and My Pizza: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home: A Cookbook based on his famous recipes. Lahey and Joseph published The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook together in 2017.
For now, Joseph and Lahey told W42ST that their “incredible staff” was helping with clean up as they worked to reconnect their electricity, water and gas.
This is a developing story. We will update as more information becomes available.