LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- When life gives you lemons, Zechariah and Kimberly Maxey would probably give you lemon poppy-seed bread and lemon meringue pie.
The married couple has found an innovative way to turn the adversity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic into a blockbuster business.
In the days before the pandemic, both had successful jobs at well known Louisville restaurants. Zechariah was a sous chef at Jack Fry's. Kimberly handled pastries at The Brown Hotel. But like millions of Americans, they found themselves on the employment sidelines, when the coronavirus slammed the economy.
The Maxeys didn't really have to come up with a plan to pay the bills. Their relatives did. Zechariah and Kimberly moved to Louisville about three years ago after most of Zechariah's family relocated here from Texas. The pandemic that left grocery shelves bare also lit up the Maxeys' phone.
"Immediately, a lot of our friends and family were like, 'We can't find bread or flour anywhere in the store! Please tell me you have some, and can you make some sourdough or cupcakes for us?'" said Kimberly.
Word spread fast once they started fulfilling those orders. In two weeks, they took 40 orders. They had to come up with a name and a plan.
A Google search revealed that Zechariah's idea of calling it Leaven Bakery was available.
Then they got their apartment kitchen certified by the Health Department and created a website to help organize orders.
"We went to bed and woke up to our phone just blowing up and we had to shut down our website," Kimberly said. "It crashed because we received about 60 orders in two hours!"
Since that day about a month ago, the Maxeys choose six to eight items they will make for the week. When they open their Facebook page for orders on Saturday afternoons, everything they can make that week is sold in a couple hours. With that much demand, plus businesses expressing interest in carrying their goods, they hope to have a brick-and-mortar location within a couple of months.
Zechariah laughs at the idea of his business stepping into the national spotlight.
"I don't know if I could sell to some multi-billionaires," he said. "That's kind of intimidating. Like I said, we're just chefs. We're used to being behind the scenes."
But once they find a location, customers will have a better chance of getting some of their breads, like Parmesan garlic sourdough, or cinnamon walnut banana bread. They also have macaroons, cupcakes and everything bagels.
As much as customers love Leaven Bakery, the Maxeys love living in Louisville.
"We just realized the cost of living is nicer, the people are nicer, we can actually grow a business here and have camaraderie in the culinary industry," Kimberly said.
To find out more about Leaven Bakery, check out their website.
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