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Former and last-ever Kelly of Cults apprentice to breathe new life into iconic building by opening third bakery

Gary McAllister, of The Bread Guy.

Gary McAllister, also known locally as The Bread Guy, is set to restore one of Aberdeen’s most iconic stores back to its former glory in the coming weeks.

The baker recently announced his plans to open a third bakery in one of the former Kelly of Cults buildings based on Thistle Street.

The four-generation family firm ceased trading in January 2015 after more than 110 years in business.

Gary, who was 17 when he started a six-year apprenticeship at the former bakery, spotted the property on the market at the start of the year.

The former freezer centre and provisions and dairy produce area at Kelly of Cults in the North Deeside Road venue.

Having kept an eye on the building and with the business playing a huge role in shaping his career, Gary knew it was the perfect site to take on to expand his brand.

A four-figure sum is being invested to transform the premises which is expected to open at the end of this month.

Returning to his roots

Gary worked under some of the best baking talent in the north-east during his time at Kelly of Cults and he says the experience is where his passion for the craft began.

He worked from 6pm to 3am six days a week.

The former brand, which opened in 1902, had locations across the city and was operated by four generations of the Kelly family.

The last venue to close on North Deeside Road was taken over by supermarket chain Sainsbury’s around six years ago.

Gary said: “I remember the shop as a Kelly of Cults bakery site when I was doing my apprenticeship.

Gary as an apprentice baker.

“I used to help with the van deliveries at the end of my shift, delivering crates of bread in the early morning. It was always a busy shop with great ties to the surrounding community.

“I was always proud to see the products I was helping to produce be so popular, with customers queuing up to get their fresh products every day.

“The building has been lying empty for years now, but I always remember it as Kelly of Cults.”

Replicating the Kelly of Cults ethos

The Bread Guy was launched three years ago and has experienced dramatic growth.

Starting out at its first site at the Blackhall Industrial Estate in Inverurie before moving to a new site in Torry, Aberdeen in May 2020, Gary and his team opened their second bakery on Great Northern Road in July.

As they prepare to open the third bakery, they hope to replicate the reputation of Kelly of Cults.

“When we first opened three years ago, we also attended the monthly Thistle Street Farmers’ Market and had a stall there,” Gary continued.

“The property next door to that at that time was empty. I set my eyes on it then and knew I wanted to bring a traditional bakery back to the site.

“Kelly of Cults had an amazing reputation and was great standing in so many communities. I want to replicate this in the new bakery.”

Interiors of the Kelly of Cults store on North Deeside Road.

Like his other venues, the newest in the fleet will offer handmade artisan breads, freshly baked butteries, hot and cold pies, breakfast rolls, sandwiches and paninis, as well as cakes, doughnuts and freshly brewed coffee.

Gary has employed some of his former colleagues at Kelly of Cults to be a part of his growing team.

He said: “We are really excited about the continued expansion of our business.

“Both of our other sites have proven really popular and our customers always say how great it is to have a local family bakery back in their communities.

Gary, left, and brother Chris McAllister outside The Bread Guy Bakery on Great Northern Road.

“To open a shop on the site of the former Kelly’s site is a massive deal to me. I was the last apprentice through the doors before its closure.

“We hope it will be ready by the end of October and we will be open from 7am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

“We will also be open on Saturdays and Sundays, so our customers can get freshly baked goods seven days a week.”

For more on The Bread Guy…