Breaking: Ohlin’s Bakery Leaving Cushing Square, Seeking Help to Find New Home

Photo: The Klemm family – Paul Jr., Paul, Marybeth, and Emily – who own and run Ohlin’s Bakery in Cushing Square.

After 101 years in Belmont, the legendary Ohlin’s Bakery at 456 Common St. is leaving its longtime home in Cushing Square for good, according to a Facebook message from its owners.

Saying they are “extremely shocked and disappointed,” owners Paul and Marybeth Klemm said despite “trying our hardest to reopen in our original location” … “[w]e were told by our landlord that this is no longer possible.”

In the message written on the store’s social media site Thursday, Nov. 10, the couple who live in Burlington said the decision “has been very depressing and we feel so lost and sad.”

Comments to the news from fans of the store and friends of the Kleems are supportive of the business which celebrated its centennial in 2015.

“This is oh so devastating for your family and all of your loyal customers,” wrote Andrea Taylor. “We will always support you!!”

The bakery, which was recognized yearly for having Boston’s best donuts, has been closed since an early morning explosion on March 15 heavily damaged the bakery section of the store.

Despite working with the landlord and insurance representatives, the cost of repairing the building and modernizing the aging equipment and ovens to bring them up to current building and fire codes was prohibitive. Even a GoFundMe page set up by a long-time friend of the business to raise $50,000 could not close the gap.

The Kleems are now appealing to customers and friends to help the couple find a new location close to the original site. So far they have looked at many places in Belmont, Watertown, Cambridge, and Arlington with the hope of securing a storefront with ample parking “and REASONABLE and AFFORDABLE RENT!”

So far, fans are requesting the store open shop in Waltham and Arlington. But mostly, customers such as Maggie Schulz told the Kleems that “[a]nywhere you go, my family will be there!”

Ohlin’s Friends Head Online To Help Bakery Get Back In Business

Photo: The GoFundMe page.

When Jacqui Davis would travel to visit her sister in Watertown, there was one mandatory stop as she passed through her former hometown of Belmont.

“How could I pass up going to Ohlin’s?” said the Burlington resident who owns Virtually Here, an online business consultancy. “It’s a staple of Cushing Square.”

For Davis, the century-old bakery located in Cushing Square was where in high school she worked behind the counter and continued coming back for, what else, the shop’s specialty.

“The donuts!” she said of the pastries that have won praise for more than 20 years. “Obviously, they are the best.” 

But Davis’ trips were suddenly ended when on March 15 – the Ides of March – an early morning explosion rocked the building and the back of the shop located at 456 Common St. closing the shop to its loyal patrons.

Since then, the landlord, the insurance company, and the town have been in discussions on the future of the site.

At the beginning of this week, co-ower Marybeth Klemm updated the store’s legion of customers with a Facebook post. She noted that the insurance would only allow the rebuilding of a retail space and if the family hoped to return to the spot, they would need to equip the space for a bakery which requires special cooking equipment, a whole lot of permits and a significant number of expensive upgrades.

“Since the building was damaged- everything must now be brought up to code. Like floors with drains etc…These are all new codes. So we now must have them, but our insurance won’t cover any upgrades,” wrote MaryBeth.

“We are incredibly nervous and stressed about the unknown,” wrote Marybeth, who owns the business with her husband, Paul.  

It was Marybeth’s message that prompted Davis into action.

This was passed around the Facebook group “You know you are from Belmont… and we decided we need to help!” said Davis in her online message.

Davis created a GoFundMe appeal on Wednesday, July 20, “to make sure Ohlin’s Bakery will be around another 100 years!” Davis said she chose $50,000 even though that figure may be on the low end of what will be needed, “but that just means we will need to exceed it,” she said.

In addition to the online fundraiser, she is tapping into her large list of clients and contracts which include local Belmont businesses to help “one of their own.”

“This is not just about another business, it’s about community,” Davis said.

After one day, the fund has raised more than $9,400 from 200 contributors as of 9 a.m., Thursday, July 21. 

“I’m as passionate about this as is Belmont,” said Davis.

Ohlin’s Celebrates Century Mark Saturday, Oct. 17

Photo: Ohlin’s Bakery celebrates 100 years in business.

Two family owners, a century of memories and millions of donuts, pastries and cakes will be recognized on Saturday, Oct. 17 as Ohlin’s Bakery celebrates a centennial doing business in Belmont.

The store, in the heart of Cushing Square at 456 Common St., will be holding hourly raffles until 6 p.m. commemorating the Ohlin and Klemm families who have been operating the business since 1915. 

The bakery has been honored over the years by local publications and national magazines for making some of the best donuts around, especially the maple glaze which the Boston Globe described as “one of the most aesthetically pleasing treats we encounter, overflowing with topping and beautifully drizzled with chocolate.”

Profiled in the Belmontonian in July, the business is truly a family run business as Marybeth and Paul Klemm and their children work either running the store or creating the baked goods.

“There’s no magic to Ohlin’s success and longevity; just the dedication of a pair of families over the past century creating a landmark destination for sweet confectionary treats,” the profile read. 


Ohlin’s Celebrates A Century of Baking for Belmont (And That Means Donuts)

Photo: The Klemm family – Paul Jr., Paul, Marybeth and Emily – who own and run Ohlin’s Bakery in Cushing Square.

There are three certainties in Belmont: the roads need repair, Ohlin’s Bakery at 456 Common St. will be open for the holidays (you name the celebration, the Cushing Square shop is ready for business) and, you will not find a better donut anywhere in Boston, or, as some have claimed, in the entire United States.

This year, the well-known Belmont institution – who hasn’t spent time enveloped in the wonderful warm aroma on an early morning visit? – marks its century of making and selling pastries, bread and, of course, donuts in the same general location since it first opened its doors in 1915.


“We have people come from far away who say, ‘We’ve come for your donuts,’,” said Marybeth Klemm, who runs the store with her husband, Paul.

In a world where upscale patisserie target hipsters with high-end donuts made with Pineapple Habanero, dark chocolate pomegranate and Sesame Sriracha priced at $3 a pop, Ohlin’s continues to outclass the competition with its traditional, homespun approach to the business.

The old fashioned, lovingly-worn storefront (it could be a movie set for a film set in the 1960s) is alive each day with the hustle and bustle as a wide array of goods – cookies, pies, cakes, pastries, bagels, scones, bread and cupcakes – are made on premises out back by Paul and his brother, and on weekends the Klemm’s son, Paul, Jr. lends a hand.

In the store, the staff rush in and out to fill and take customer orders, from workers picking up a dozen maple glazed donuts for their colleagues to families coming in for a birthday cake or to purchase creatively-decorated cookies.


CJ Jones, the manager of the Belmont Car Wash on Trapelo Road – another longtime Belmont family-run business – who returns like clock work daily to bring pastries to his operation.

“I come into Ohlin’s because they’re the best,” he said, coming away with two dozen assorted donuts, muffins, and cookies.

“I give them away to my customers for free because [the donuts are] so good. They come back to get their car washed because of the donuts!” he said.

The tightly-packed shop doesn’t have a place to sit and fire up your laptop for an hour of leisurely browsing. You serve your own coffee, get in line with the regulars and newcomers and pause to be called on.

And the wait is well worth it. The Boston Globe and Herald, The Harvard Crimson, CBS Boston, local publications and regional magazines such as Boston Magazine and the Improper Bostonian have all rave about of the family-run shop’s pastry selection.


Yet it’s Ohlin’s donuts that have won the highest praise as coming close to fried dough perfection. Whether ring or filled, the multitude of varieties – dipped, glazed, jellied – are the pinnacle of the art form, the DiVinci of donuts.

Having named the shop’s donuts “Boston’s Best” numerous years, the Globe this year pointed out Ohlin’s maple glaze as “one of the most aesthetically pleasing treats we encounter, overflowing with topping and beautifully drizzled with chocolate.”

Customers have made their views known writing in online review sites, such as Yelp and Trip Advisor. As one experienced reviewer noted: “This is a bakery that makes great donuts. And I’m going to repeat that: Great Donuts. The best I’ve ever had in Boston. Very likely the best I’ve ever had anywhere.”

There’s no magic to Ohlin’s success and longevity; just the dedication of a pair of families over the past century creating a landmark destination for confectionary sweat treats.

The shops history goes back to 1915 when the Ohlin family settled into Belmont and rented a spot in the then bustling Cushing Square which was in the midst of a housing explosion as estates were divided up into subdivisions.


Ohlin’s joined dozens of other small bakeries that populated nearly every square and main street in communities in and around New England before the day of large-scale bakeries and supermarkets.

In 1967, the Ohlin’s sold the store to Robert Klemm, the son of a dynasty within the Boston-area baking circles. The Klemm family started or bought dozens of small bakeries in Boston and its nearby suburbs including its first, Lyndell’s Bakery, which opened in Somerville in 1887 and still in operation.

Through perseverance, a solid produce line and a multigenerational cliental, the Klemm’s have staked their claim in a town where franchises – a third Dunkin’ Donut in Belmont is expected to open next year on Pleasant Street along with a Starbucks located across Trapelo Road – and other independent stores (Linda’s Donuts is just a few blocks down Belmont Street) compete for the loyalty of residents and those who work in Belmont.

Today, the tradition continues every predawn morning as Paul arrives between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. to begin another day. By the early daylight hours, racks of donuts and other products are flying out of the ovens in a bakery where the heat is constant and relief is provided by a half-open door.


Marybeth became involved in the business “the day I said ‘I do’,” marrying into the bakery in 1984.

“Next thing I knew, I was getting up at 3 a.m,” she said, who started working at Ohlin’s as a 16-year old in an after-school job, meeting Paul who was working for his father.

It truly is a family business. Daughter Emily remembers her first “job” was folding boxes as a five-year-old in the corner of the store during the holidays, having graduated today to decorating birthday cakes and manning the store’s social media operation.

Despite its reputation for producing outstanding pastries, Ohlin’s is a small local business that depends not just on the big ticket items such as birthday cakes but also the single donut purchase to stay financially viable.

“We really rely on our local customers; we depend on them. But because we have a great reputation with our donuts, every day we get people who say it’s their first time here. Word of mouth is really important for our business to succeed,” said Marybeth.

“We are so thankful that they come to small businesses because we do work hard. My husband’s here seven days a week, getting up at midnight or 1 a.m. on weekends and 2 a.m. on weekdays. He doesn’t miss a day,” she said.


The Klemm children – which includes oldest daughter, Joanne Klemm Mann, who gave birth to their first grandchild, Christopher Joseph (CJ for short) on April 1 – also take time away from their own work; son Paul Jr. is an accountant and youngest daughter Emily is a recent graduate from UMass- Lowell working in public health with a view towards becoming a nurse.

“Right now, we do have them to help out,” said Marybeth.

If there is a dark cloud over the store, it’s what impacts many family-run business; who all continue the legacy. Paul said his children are leading their lives and will likely move on, leaving him and his brother running the bakery.

In fact, Paul has found it difficult to find someone who is willing to come aboard as a full-time baker, help that is sorely needed.

“It would be sad if we couldn’t find someone to continue what the Ohlin and Klemm families have created,” said Marybeth.

“But, hey, we just had a grandson. You never know,” she said, with a laugh.

Sometime in the early fall, the store will hold its 100th birthday – the actual day the business opened has been lost to history – “and I think we should have a ‘100’ cake to give out to everyone in town because so many are our customers,” said Marybeth.

Until then, customers can come by the store on the 4th of July, this Saturday, to pick from a selection of red, white and blue pastries for the evening’s barbecue or to help begin the Independent Day celebrations.

“Yes, we will be open and have lots of patriotic goodies!” said Marybeth.