Artisan bakery-café, Bake Bar, has opened its hotly anticipated third store in Sydney. We head to Double Bay to speak with entrepreneurial co-owner Rafi Aruch and head of baking and production Gili Gold about organic ingredients, wholefood philosophies and unique cultural influences.
After finding exceptional success in Randwick and Alexandria, the fuss-free artisan bakery brand, Bake Bar, has now captured the hearts of Double Bay locals. With a philosophy of only using the freshest organic and sustainable ingredients, it’s no wonder business is booming.
Opening just in time for Christmas, the Double Bay store was the second Bake Bar venture to pop up last year. The move is part of an aggressive growth plan that has seen husband-and-wife team, co-owner Amir Regev and Gili Gold, and co-owner Rafi Aruch, also open a wholesale operation that now services the wider Sydney region.
“Our goal has always been to establish the business as a thriving bakery brand. As you can imagine, the opening of our third store marks a huge milestone for us,” Gili says.
“The new store is our biggest venue to date with inside and outside seating for up to 80 customers. The added space and kitchen also means we’ll be able to significantly increase production across all three stores,” Rafi adds – and he’d know, he’s a trained chef who worked in hotel catering throughout Israel before emigrating to Australia.
The Double Bay business is essentially split three-ways: the bakery, the self-service area and the café. It’s all part of the customer experience, according to Rafi, who says the lines are blurring between dining in and eating at home.
“Today’s customers, particularly those who come into our new bakery, are used to eating well – and that extends to the food they want to take home to enjoy with their family and friends. That’s why we’re bringing them in with our café, for example, with our grass-fed beef burger on freshly made organic soft bun, but sending them home with an arm full of pastries and baguettes,” he says.
“They will smell the fresh bread, they will see it being made through the viewing window, they will taste it with lunch and say to themselves, ‘I want to replicate this at home’. They have a real connection with the product, and they want to take that home with them.”
As part of the revitalisation of the old Woolworths site in Double Bay, Bake Bar joins 20 specialty retail shops and is the only bakery to open in the new Kiaora Place. It’s all part of the area’s “massive comeback”, according to Amir, who says the team is “thrilled to be a part of this exciting time for the community”.
“The council has spent a hell of a lot of money to uplift this area. There are quite a few businesses that complement each other and, because it’s quite an upmarket area, we really needed to step up and make sure we offered contemporary, on-trend style.”
The look and feel of the space has certainly hit the mark. The simplistic décor of white butcher-tiled walls, copper lampshades and dark timber bench tops is classy, modern and ambient all at the same time. Nonetheless, it’s the food and beverage offering that will keep customers coming back for more, which is why the Double Bay store will keep the tried-and-tested organic and wholefood foundation its Randwick and Alexandria sister-stores were built on.
“At Bake Bar we only use sustainable, organic and seasonal produce to create every item prepared in our kitchen. This is an important principle that’s embedded across all three of our locations,” Gili says.
“We strive to source organic ingredients whenever we can. By doing so we support our local organic farmers, and build lasting and meaningful relationships. For example, we source our organic flour from Wholegrain Milling, which works directly with farmers and has a great, multi-generational story behind the brand.
“It’s about finding the very best in a way that is good for all of us. That helps us become a community focal point wherever we set up shop – and our reputation is spreading quickly.”
Along the wall, shelves of bread trays overflow with sourdoughs, including 100 per cent spelt, light rye and white varieties. It’s the multigrain that’s the most popular, however, with Gili saying the flavour-loaded recipe uses nine kinds of toasted seeds.
Sourdough aside, focaccias, rye, caraway, brioche, baguettes, l’ancienne, olive bread and bagels are hot property while, in the display cabinets, cupcakes, pastries, scones, tarts, slices and scrolls represent a strong sweet menu.
“We actually have around 120 recipes that we make from scratch. We bake lots of different types of cakes, including flourless cakes – all made from natural ingredients such real pears, oranges and almonds,” Gili says, adding weekend experimentation keeps staff and customers on their toes.
“Our date and walnut scones come out on the weekend, along with brioche, almond croissants, 100 per cent dark rye bread, and different sourdoughs. It’s nice to keep some recipes special.”
The team even has ceoliacs covered with a gluten-free bread and cupcakes available daily. And, in addition to the baked goods, gourmet salads, burgers and breakfast foods form an extensive eat-in and takeaway menu.
“We bake all day. We don’t get the bakers in early and clear them out when it’s service time. We have bread going in and out of the oven all day. The more we sell, the more we bake,” Gili says.
“It’s always fresh and warm for the customer. Plus, it makes the bakery smell great!”
Gili’s family recipes, many of which have come all the way from Israel, are also on show in the Double Bay store, and customers have already started a cult-like devotion to her challah, served fresh on Fridays. There’s also a distinctly transcontinental influence on Aussie favourites, with the lamb harissa (a chilli, garlic, lemon and cumin paste) sausage roll one of the best sellers on the savoury menu.
“The Bake Bar concept works because we’re consistent in offering what the people want. In Double Bay, there’s a lot of demand for gluten-free products and, of course, for bakery products made using fresh, organic ingredients. You can’t go wrong when you deliver what your customers are asking for,” Gili says.
“Baking and baking well are two different things. With Gili, there are a lot of elements of production she’s just not prepared to compromise on,” Rafi says, proudly.
“There is no compromise on quality,” Gili says.
“Everything is natural. There are no preservatives, just great quality food. You can’t beat that!”