A Germantown landmark since much of the surrounding area was still farmland, the Cider Barrel now stands empty next to an apartment complex along Md. 355.
The once-popular stop for apple cider—a barrel-shaped building painted red, white and blue—closed in 2003, but a local pastry chef is hoping to lease and restore the building and reopen it as a bakery.
“I keep seeing the Cider Barrel sit there every time I pass by it, and I think, it’s such a beautiful building, how come no one’s done anything with it?,” Brandi Edinger said Tuesday. “I said, you know, I’m going to take a shot in the dark with it.”
She reached out and said she got the OK from the property owner to make the change, and later earned the backing of the Germantown Alliance and the Germantown Historical Society. Edinger launched a Kickstarter online fundraising account Wednesday night for donations to open the Cider Barrel as a new business.
Elm Street Development, which owns the adjacent apartment buildings, currently maintains the Cider Barrel. Edinger plans to lease the building from the company.
As the Cider Barrel Bakery, the shop would sell fresh pastries, including croissants, Danishes and cinnamon rolls, Edinger said. If her plans work out, she said she would also partner with local farms to sell produce, flowers and other seasonal items.
Edinger is seeking to raise $80,000 by Oct. 7 to restore the foundation of the building, saying the structure “needs a lot of work.” Since it is a Kickstarter campaign, she will only be able to keep the money if she meets her goal. She hopes residents will support the project out of interest in seeing the Cider Barrel in use again.
When the Cider Barrel was built in 1922, owner Andrew Baker used it to sell his products from his nearby apple orchard. The Cross family bought the building a few years later and sold cider there for nearly 80 years before closing 14 years ago.
In a letter to the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission this spring, Germantown Alliance president Susan Burkinshaw praised the project as a “great use” of a historic space.
“The Cider Barrel is an important part of Germantown’s history and it is a shame to see it vacant,” she wrote. “The proposed pastry shop would be a fantastic addition to the community. We do not think the plans would diminish the historical significance of the building.”
Edinger, who lives down the street from the Cider Barrel, said she appreciates the history of the site and hopes to honor that with the restoration. She plans to “represent the Cider Barrel for what it was” and include a room with historic photos and information about the site’s past.
“What that building is and was and what it stands for, that’s really, honestly, what’s making this project so important and so special,” Edinger said. “Many people have been there generation after generation. … So I think it really does have a special place in people’s hearts and I think that’s why people are so eager to see it brought back to life.”
A pastry chef in the area for 12 years, Edinger was trained in Europe. She said she would primarily focus on baked goods at the new Cider Barrel, but would also offer baking classes to kids inside and might sell ice cream from the streetside window.
Of course, she said, she would sell cider, too.