For a little more than a year and a half, Ryan Fondelier has been baking and selling artisan goods from his home in Johnstown with his wife, Jacinda.
“We started doing farmers markets anywhere they’d have us,” he said.
“Once our products got out, we started getting more phone calls from people inviting us to markets.
“It grew to 15 to 20 phone calls a month, and we were doing orders on the side, as well.
“We ran out of room to bake everything at our home.”
With help from the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority and Johnstown Area Regional Industries, he’s turned a vacant building in Cambria City into a new cafe with seating on two floors and outdoor seating, too.
Ryan’s Artisan Goods Cafe & Bakery is set to open Nov. 11 at 424 Broad St.
“When we started looking for a location, people wanted us to move to Richland,” Ryan said. “But I think there is so much heritage in the West End with the mills. It’s a working people’s neighborhood.
“They don’t have much there right now. They deserve something, a place to sit down, eat a bagel in the morning or sit down with family for lunch. That’s what pushed us to open in Cambria City.”
Ryan’s Artisan Goods includes all sorts of breads, bagels, New York-style deli sandwiches, paninis and pizzas.
Fondelier, 32, gew up in the Oakland section of town near Geistown.
Jacinda (Drager) grew up in the West End.
“We look for cleaner foods, and we always look for local items,” he said. “Our farmers markets are really good around here.”
Word about Ryan’s Artisan Goods Cafe & Bakery has spread through social media.
“When we posted this on Facebook, the amount of people that welcomed us, especially from the business community there, overwhelmed us,” Fondelier said. “Other businesses were reaching out to congratulate us. I’m not sure you would have had that with another location.”
JRA Executive Director Melissa Komar helped Fondelier find a home for his business in Cambria City.
Komar said Fondelier is the second entrepreneur to gain momentum from the city’s weekly farmers market. Taco Chellz opened on Main Street in June after starting at the farmers market, Komar said.
“What we’ve seen take place with the farmers market isn’t something that was planned, but it’s turning into a small-scale incubator for entrepreneurs,” she said.
“They see what it’s like to do business in Johnstown and want to have a bricks-and-mortar location.”
The business is positioned to draw traffic from Broad Street, as well as people who walk, bike and run in the area.
“It was a great place for his business to open,” Komar said.
‘An ideal match’
The 424 Broad St. building is owned by Barry Gallagher, who said it’s been empty for four years. It is a former location of Village Street Café.
“This was an ideal match,” Gallagher said. “Ryan really impressed me.”
JARI entrepreneurial coach Blake Fleegle assisted Fondelier with a loan for a commercial confection oven.
JARI has a new program for directly supplying micro-loans with funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“With all the struggles COVID has brought, especially for eateries, I’m happy to help support someone like Ryan who is adding to the food scene and not, sadly, closing their doors,” Fleegle said.
Fleegle said he’s excited for the community to discover Fondelier’s cafe and bakery.
“I can’t say enough good things about Ryan and his new bakery,” Fleegle said. “The location is a perfect match for him, and he is a perfect match for the neighborhood.
“You know, Cambria City has always been known as the place for exciting food, and I think Ryan’s Artisan Goods is a great fit there. With handmade goods, sourced from local farms, Ryan is doing his food the right way, and it shows.”