Home Essex CountyCedar Grove Flatbread Grill’s Famous Thumb Bread is Headed to Cedar Grove

Flatbread Grill’s Famous Thumb Bread is Headed to Cedar Grove

by Stephanie Brown
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Essex County is in for a treat. Flatbread Grill, a delivery-only hot spot that originated in Montclair + now operates in Hudson County, is making its way over to Cedar Grove. Known for their Mediterranean fast-casual fare, the trio of sisters behind the eatery will now be selling their beloved Thumb Bread out of The Fresh Grocer at 597 Pompton Avenue. On Sunday, April 2nd, the Esendemir Sisters will be hosting a Flatbread Grill in-store sampling. Read on to learn more about Flatbread Grill + its arrival in Essex County. 

thumb bread

(Photo credits: The Esendemir Sisters, Thumb Bread)

The Ivy at Chatham

A Return to Essex County

Nearly 15 years ago, Fusun, Gonca, and Arzu Esendemir ventured to open Flatbread Grill right here in Montclair. Over the course of their journey, the sisters have relocated their talents to Hoboken + Jersey City, operating as a delivery-only outpost. The brand’s Thumbread has become something of an icon and is now sold at various grocery stores in the Hudson County area. 

Now, the sisters are returning to their Essex County roots, and Flatbread Grill’s beloved Thumb Bread will be sold out of The Fresh Grocer in Cedar Grove. On Sunday, April 2nd, Esendemir Sisters will be hosting a Flatbread Grill in-store sampling. In a statement to The Montclair Girl, Gonca said “We’re so excited because obviously Flatbread Grill’s first location was in Essex County and we had such a big customer base from Cedar Grove, Verona, and the surrounding towns!” We can’t wait to stop by.

The Thumb Bread Backstory

When Fusun, Gonca, and Arzu Esendemir first opened Flatbread Grill in Montclair in 2008, Thumb Bread was a huge part of the menu. This soft, delicious, vegan bread was used for sandwiches, dips, salads, and more. The New York Times even raved about it during a 2008 review.

Arzu spent years developing the recipe. “I wanted something that wasn’t available everywhere,” she told Montclair Girl. Although she wasn’t a classically-trained baker, Arzu loved bread and had grown up watching her parents in the kitchen. Her father used to be in the restaurant business himself and ran eateries in Hoboken and Bayonne.

The Esendemir Sisters used to hand-make every batch of bread for their restaurants. Sometimes, they needed to make a second batch in the afternoon to keep up with the demand. And since transitioning full-time to the bread business, that really hasn’t changed. 

Read More: Popular Millburn Israeli Bakery You Need to Visit — Liv Breads

“Arzu still does hand form and stretch every single bread and put the finger marks in every single bread. But we are a little bit more semi-automated now,” Gonca said. 

esendemir sisters thumb bread

(Photo credits: The Esendemir Sisters, Thumb Bread)

Transitioning The Business

The pandemic pushed the Esendemir Sisters to shift their focus from the restaurant to their bread business. And since the trio opened their first restaurant during the recession, they knew what it was like to launch a new business in difficult times.

As Gonca said, “We go all-in on something,” and the sisters got to work securing baking equipment, a facility, and reworking the recipe to give the bread a longer shelf life. It wasn’t long before ShopRite reached out about selling Thumb Bread in its stores.

Thumb Bread is now available in select ShopRite stores across the East Coast. “Locally, you can find it in the Hoboken, Bayonne, Jersey City ShopRites. We also have other locations rolling out in the next couple of weeks,” Arzu said, including 8 NYC Gourmet Garage locations later this summer.

thumb bread grocery store

(Photo credits: The Esendemir Sisters, Thumb Bread)

As far as future plans go, the Esendemir Sisters are staying focused on expanding their brand and keeping Thumb Bread stocked on grocery store shelves. But they are also working to grow their nonprofit – the Hold The Bread Foundation

As native Hobokenites, the Esendemir Sisters are big on giving back to the community. Food insecurity is an important issue to them and they want to do what they can to help tackle this problem locally. “We’ll partner with local food pantries to donate bread,” Gonca said. Through this organization, the sisters will also teach local kids growing up in poverty how to cook and bake. 

Favorite Ways to Enjoy Thumb Bread

Thumb Bread is known as “bread for everything,” so we asked the sisters for their recommendations on how to make the best use of this bread at home.

See More: Prato Bakery — Authentic Italian Breads + Biscotti

“You can use it to make an egg and cheese sandwich, you can use it to make paninis, toast, dessert, ice cream sandwiches,” Arzu said. For Thumb Bread first-timers, the sisters describe it as a softer style of bread that isn’t too sour or sweet. 

“It’s really a great sandwich bread. And also a great toast bread, I love it for toast,” Gonca added. They’ve even added an avocado toast recipe to their website.

Arzu also loves using Thumb Bread as a base for mini-pizzas. “It’s easy to top veggies and some cheese and sauce and pop it in the air fryer,” she said. “It’s a nice on-the-go snack for me.”

All of these recipe ideas sound incredible to us — which is all the more reason to keep your eyes out for Thumb Bread and start cooking.

Stay in the know with @themontclairgirl on Instagram and TikTok.

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