This week, Rise Bakery—DC’s first 100 percent gluten-free bakery—opened its debut Northern Virginia store in Sterling.
It’s a “full-circle” moment for owner Mike Koritko, who initially lived in Sterling when he moved to the area for a job in product-management consulting. Koritko has celiac disease, an immune reaction to eating gluten, and he quickly realized there was a big opportunity to cater to the gluten-free community.
“I just knew being from Pennsylvania, there are gluten-free bakeries everywhere. If those smaller towns, and places like Pittsburgh and Philly, had them and DC didn’t have anything, I knew it could work,” says Koritko, who, in high school, used to bake gluten-free bread with his mother when no grocery store—not even Whole Foods, he says—carried it.
When Koritko decided to open a bakery of his own, he searched high and low for a location in Sterling, but couldn’t find a landlord willing to rent to a budding entrepreneur without an established business history. Rise Bakery ultimately opened in Washington’s Adams Morgan neighborhood in November 2014.
It was a hit from day one, with a line of customers stretching down the block on opening day. Over the years, Rise Bakery has become a trusted go-to for the local gluten-free community. Koritko has even expanded into wholesale—although he emphasizes the wholesale business is not a huge focus—offering its freshly baked products at several restaurants, cafes, bakeries, grocery stores, and markets, including in Alexandria, Arlington, and Occoquan.
Rise Bakery has technically been in the Sterling space since early March 2020, when Koritko transferred the DC location’s baking and production to NoVA. The move allowed Koritko and his team to renovate the Adams Morgan space and expand into a café model serving pizzas, panini, and other prepared foods. The Sterling space has been Rise Bakery’s “engine” for the last year and a half.
“Expanding to a second location is a really big deal that’s been in the works for a very long time,” he adds. “Now’s the time [to open]. We’re ready to go.”
As of Rise Bakery Sterling’s “soft” opening to the community on November 3, it’s a grab-and-go, takeout model: It’s slightly different than DC, in that there’s no seating and no prepared foods like pizza and paninis. But customers can still enjoy all their Rise Bakery favorites, including cupcakes, bread, bagels, croissants, cinnamon rolls, cakes, cookies, pies, and more. The Sterling store also has an exclusive baked good: a cherry-almond bear claw.
But what remains the same is Rise Bakery’s focus on serving its customers.
At its core, part of Rise Bakery’s mission, Koritko says, is to make “gluten-free living as easy, accessible, and enjoyable as possible.”
Rise Bakery’s Sterling is located at 201 Davis Drive, Unit K, and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. (The bakery is closed on Monday and Tuesday.) For more information, visit Rise Bakery Sterling on Instagram @RiseBakerySterling or Facebook, or email [email protected].
Photo courtesy Rise Bakery
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