Imagine your favorite baked good. Say, a buttery babka, shot through with swirls of rich chocolate. Now, imagine that babka, fresh out of the oven, still warm in your fingers as you pull it apart. The steam wafts up, delivering aromas of yeast and melted chocolate before you take that first, heady bite. Unforgettable, right? That, in a nutshell, is Bakey, a new Boston café that pairs first-rate coffee with baked goods that are only served in their prime. The overarching goal is to serve bread and pastries in that brief, magical window of straight-from-the-oven-fresh perfection.
Uri Scheft, the renowned Danish-Israeli baker famed for his Lehamim Bakery in Israel and former co-founder of Breads Bakery in New York City, recently opened up his latest U.S. establishment Bakey in Boston and has been serving up the freshest baked goods the city has ever seen.
“I love to emphasize the freshness of bakery products on display, rather than simply fill up the racks just to make everything on the shelf look abundant,” Scheft explains. “This is part of a growing – and much welcomed – movement in retail to focus on quality over volume.”
Bakey co-founder Scheft is a Danish-Israeli baker who specializes in laminated dough creations that reflect both European and Israeli baking traditions. Scheft first studied his craft in Denmark, and continued his professional education in France, Italy, Israel, and New York. He is the founder/owner of Lehamim Bakery, with six locations in Israel, former co-owner and founder of Breads Bakery in New York City, and the author of Breaking Breads, a critically acclaimed book on Israeli baking.
Or Ohana is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Bakey, a baked goods enthusiast, and a hospitality specialist. He has worked alongside Scheft at Lehamim Bakery in Tel Aviv since 2005, where he worked his way from salesperson to co-owner and CEO. He is obsessed with redefining what fresh baked goods should mean to the American audience.
The idea behind Bakey was born out of a combined passion for bread and sweet and savory pastries, and the desire to celebrate them at their very best. Whatever time of day you decide to indulge – whether it’s with your made-to-order morning latté or afternoon espresso -- you should expect a pastry that is the same level of freshness. That is Bakey’s promise.
In action, this means:
- We knead, shape, bake and sell all at the same location.
- We are constantly baking; as one example, our signature chocolate babka is made 12-14x each day which means we are baking every hour each and every day.
- We have “empty” bakery cases; this isn’t because items are sold out, it’s because we bake them in smaller amounts to replenish stock throughout the day rather than one large amount each morning that sits in the case until it’s sold.
- Products are removed from the bakery cases when it has not been sold and is no longer as fresh as it should be.
This is how Bakey defines and creates a baked goods experience, in the attempt to change the way bakery goods enthusiasts think about fresh.
“We also source the highest quality ingredients and use them generously in all our creations. When you care as much about freshness as our team does, it means refusing to serve a lot of otherwise perfectly delicious product. This is why we partner with the Women’s Lunch Place to donate all the “not fresh enough to sell but still delicious to eat” products each day.
“We’re very happy with the experience so far and are excited to continue learning from our customers in Boston and expanding our offerings to meet those demands,” Scheft explains.
Quality is as important as freshness. Bakey sources the very best ingredients and uses them generously. Expect a surplus of rich European-style butter in their laminated dough Babkas, oodles of creamy Greek Feta in their cheese-stuffed Burekas and loads of dark Belgian chocolate in the ganache frosting on the Birthday Cake, and in their gooey chocolate chip cookies.
“We’re still learning what our guests like, and the type of products they tend to gravitate towards throughout the day,” Scheft says. “Our guests in Boston are different than those at our stores in Israel, they tend to gravitate towards sweet products more in the mornings than we expected. Some of our guests’ preferences have been a surprise to us, for instance we’ve found a very high demand for our Spinach Burekas early in the morning and same goes for our Almond Babka. We expected and are seeing a very high demand for our Chocolate Babka, which was no surprise, but these other products were something we didn’t expect our customers to ask for as often as they do.”
They are also seeing more and more demand for bread. They just started serving our 100% rye bread, and it’s been a huge success.
“It took us a long time to source all the right ingredients, especially the flour which we source from Maine – it’s an organic, and very high-quality flour that comes incredibly fresh; something I have rarely experienced in my work around the world, especially not in Boston,” he adds.
“When we started, we had a menu in mind, but this has continued to adapt and change as we learn from what our customers like and want when they come into our store. We just started a soft bagel offering, for example, which was never in our plans, but the demand was there and growing very rapidly for this type of bread offering to pair with our various house-made spreads – so we’ve incorporated it into our selection. We like to have our eyes and ears always open, listening and learning from our guests and ensuring our offerings fit the demand here in Boston – fine tuning our menu and the quantity we bake at certain times of the day to achieve the maximum level of freshness.”
As for the effects of the pandemic, the bakery has not seen a change in our guests’ preferences.
“When it comes to baked goods – bread, cakes, etc. – I find people can very easily recognize quality products,” Scheft says. “Once you taste something of high quality, it’s hard to go back to an item that doesn’t measure up. Naturally we sell all our known items more than those our guests are less familiar with, but we find this is rapidly changing as they begin to recognize and trust our products more and more. They’re much more willing to take a chance and try new, less familiar baked goods than they were when we first started – all due to the trust we’ve built with them.
“Our Egg & Cheese Burekas were one of those items – it’s made with a savory, flakey shortbread dough and filled with cream cheese and a hardboiled egg. We thought it would be a challenge to sell this item but now it sells out often.”
Bakey brings a taste of Scheft’s repertoire to Boston, offering a variety of rotating and always fresh items for breakfast, light meals for lunch and dinner and - of course - coffee and baked goods all day. The highlight of the menu is an assortment of treats made using Scheft’s famous laminated dough, including both Babkas and Buns, available in both sweet and savory forms. In addition, puff pastry dough based Burekas and house made Breads are always available in evergreen and seasonal offerings.