“This neighborhood is awesome,” Provence’s director of operations Kim Totzke said of the Gulch. “It’s been fun to work down here. But with the new space we should be at least 25 percent more efficient.”
Totzke described the new location as a former commercial bakery in the Airpark Business Center near Donelson Pike. She called it a turnkey operation, meaning it’s already configured for Provence’s needs. “We literally just have to drop our equipment in,” she said. There’s also more room for future expansion of Provence, which serves wholesale and catering clients as well as retail customers at its cafes around town.
“While we have enjoyed watching the development of the Gulch, and consider ourselves pioneers in its development, we needed to move to a facility that could support our growth,” Totzke said. Pete Greenfield, an industrial real estate specialist at Cassidy Turley, contacted Provence about the space, and a lease was signed Friday, Totzke said. Provence will open the new facility by Sept. 1.
While the new space is roughly the same square footage as the Gulch, its layout is more efficient because it’s square instead of rectangular, Totzke said. Currently there are ovens across the room from each other, and bakers have to walk 50 feet between them.
In addition, the new location has three loading docks, Totzke said. In the Gulch, there’s just one loading area and it’s hemmed in by pay parking. “We really have a problem getting semis in," she said. "It’s no longer a great fit for us.”
Provence really was a pioneer in the Gulch when it took over the warehouse at 401 12th Ave. S. for its bakery operations in 2001. (Non-bakery items like sandwiches and salads are still prepared at Provence’s flagship cafe in Hillsboro Village.)
In the years since, the Gulch has changed radically — striking new condominium projects have brought several hundred residents to the neighborhood just south of Broadway. The Gulch has also become a nightlife destination, with new restaurants and live music at Sambuca supper club joining the venerable bluegrass spot the Station Inn. Hipster clothing store Urban Outfitters opened in the Gulch last year.