Listen as Kitty speaks with Andrew Ullom at Union Special.
Andrew Ullom, a baker and chef originally from Ohio, is the owner of Union Special in Raleigh, N.C. Union Special is named after a sewing machine by the same name. The sewing machine is hardworking, very reliable and built to last, just like the bakery and café located at 2409 Crabtree Boulevard in the newly renovated Gateway Plaza. Their bakeshop, which serves breakfast and lunch, starts with European bread traditions and focuses on making bread and pastry indicative of Eastern North Carolina. The kitchen brings fun and nostalgia with local grains and produce. Union Special has stayed busy during the pandemic since it offers a takeout option, plenty of parking spaces and expanded outdoor seating. It will be opening a second location in downtown Raleigh very soon.
Ullom has a culinary degree and a baking apprenticeship as well as work experience at Greenbrier, Washington Duke and as a head baker/pastry chef at Ashley Christensen Restaurants. From Ashley Christensen, Ullom believes in giving back to the local community. Union Special has baked 12,000-15,000 loaves of bread that the community purchases so they can give bread to local organizations so people in need have something to eat. Ullom also believes in providing a great work culture for its employees with livable wages, sick days, mental health days, flexible work schedule, time off to volunteer at the food bank, health insurance coverage and a retirement plan option. “If you take care of your folks,” said Ullom, “and offer living wages, you also offer an environment where people feel heard and people feel comfortable, you’re not going to have a problem with staffing.”
Ullom chose Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” as the song that represented his croissants. Ullom says, “There’s a line in the song ‘hey you with the pretty face.’ I love our croissants in that way when all of them come out absolutely perfect. That’s the thought that I have. Everything is super playful, and everything is fresh to get. I feel like that’s the most perfect pairing I can really come up with.”
Check out the song Andrew paired with his signature Union Special Croissants: