How does one celebrate the opening of a new bakery café? If you're Zak Stern, AKA Zak the Baker, you hire a band to play bluegrass tunes, you bake a bunch of bread, and you line your counters with sunflowers, wine bottles, and a handle of whiskey.
Donors, supporters, friends, and family gathered Sunday to break in the Wynwood bakery (405 NW 26th St.), tucked away from the landscape of bars, galleries, and trendy restaurants. Children and adults eagerly spread guacamole, hummus, beets, and feta on thick, rustic slices of sourdough, and Zak stood behind the counter while clapping to the music.
"I think the bread we make is very good," Zak said. "I don't think it's a revolution. I don't think we've invented anything. Its just that we've taken the time to do it right."
So far, doing it right has paid off. Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than its $30,000 goal, Zak and his wife/partner, Batsheva Wulfsohn, successfully moved from Hialeah to Wynwood. The former warehouse is open and inviting, with everything in plain sight: freshly baked loaves, wooden counter tops, cooling racks, and industrial ovens. The bakery feels like a friend's home.
"I really think this is going to be a cornerstone of this neighborhood," Zak said. "It will add something wholesome to this neighborhood."
It's not just the dough Zak refers to when he talks about bringing something wholesome to Miami. He makes an effort to use local ingredients from places such as Little River Market Garden and Paradise Farms, employs a local artist for his wooden tables and chairs, and all of the mugs and dishware will be thrown by local potters. Where others cut corners or rely on run-of-the-mill options, Zak goes slow and values quality.
And while the bakery is up and running, the café is still evolving. This Monday, they hope to offer customers a limited menu -- an array of open-faced toasts with approachable but sophisticated spreads. To think of a café offering only toast might seem ludicrous -- but only if you haven't tried the bread. With options such as multigrain, walnut 'n' cranberry, sesame, Jewish rye, olive 'n' za'ata, sunflower, plum fennel 'n' rye, and challah, we'd be happy with a slice and a cup of coffee. Soon, though, the café will showcase soups, salads, and sandwiches.
Of course, with all the praise, success, and well wishes, there's always the danger that a young baker like Zak could lose sight of his mission, especially in fickle Miami. Then again:
"I think we make great fucking bread, but I don't think I'm the messiah of bread or anything," Zak said. "We're just mixing flour and water, and we're doing it the old-fashioned way."
All hail the old-fashioned way.
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Zak the Baker is open Sunday through Friday and is certified kosher.