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The Bakery on Glenayr: The community bakery

The Bakery on Glenayr: The community bakery

The Bakery on Glenayr opened earlier this year to a warm embrace and enthusiastic welcome from the surrounding North Bondi community. Michael Klausen, who is no stranger to baking accolades, is enjoying the positive reception. Baking Business sat down with Michael to discuss how The Bakery on Glenayr came about and what the future of the business looks like.

After a few years of consulting work following the sale of Brasserie Bread, Michael wasn’t looking for a new venture when inspiration struck.

“I live in North Bondi, and there was a community bakery that had been around for 15 years or longer and had been going really well—everybody loved it,” Michael says.

“I don’t know what happened, but it suddenly went under and was sitting empty. I walked past and went, ‘That could be kind of fun!’

“The agent showed me through it, and I got this feeling in my stomach that this could be really fun to do.”

And so, Michael and his partner—in business and in life—Elise Cook made a deal with the landlord. They took possession and began preparing the building, keeping as much of the original structure as they could in order to do everything as sustainably as possible.

While they were getting the bakery ready, Michael says, they were approached by many community members who were excited by the prospect of another bakery taking over the premises.

Michael says, “When we spoke to everybody in the neighbourhood, they said, ‘What’s happening at the bakery? What are you going to do at the bakery?’

“Everybody used the term ‘The Bakery’, people called the building The Bakery. So, we became The Bakery, and we added ‘On Glenayr’, which is just our main street.”

And the North Bondi community has completely embraced the new bakery.

“People love it! People like to know that they have a bakery in their neighbourhood,” he says.

“Since we opened, people have just been walking in and saying, ‘Thank you, we’re so happy you’re here!’—I’ve never had that before in my life. It’s been really heartwarming and beautiful.”

There is an atmosphere to the business that Michael says is very inspiring.

“It feels like the beginning of when I started Brasserie. There’s that energy in it!” he says.

“But what really stands out for me is that we are so connected with the consumers. If we make products that are… imperfect, we can just explain to people that they’re a bit wonky.

“We can walk into work today and say, ‘Hey, in two days we want to make an olive bread’, and we just make it and put it on the shelf. If people like it, we might make some more, and if they don’t then we won’t. There’s a beautiful freedom in it.”

And this freedom is allowing the team behind The Bakery on Glenayr to experiment with a range of baked goods and test out new ideas with the customers. This has proven to be quite successful.

“We do pastries that are in a savoury style, and we see if people like them or not.

“We’ve just done a shakshuka pastry, which is beautiful. People were curious, and suddenly we kept selling out, so we had to make more!” Michael says.

Experiences like this have enabled the team behind The Bakery on Glenayr to choose what they make and when, taking on feedback from consumers that has only served to further enmesh them into the fabric of the North Bondi community.

The Bakery has also put a lot of care into the coffee that it serves, which has become part of its appeal.

“Every coffee we do is made with special care—even when we’re really busy, we take the time to make really high-end coffees.

“We present the coffee, even in a takeaway cup, perfectly pouring with the right creaming of the milk. People really appreciate it,” he says.

With The Bakery sitting in a perfect sweet spot, Michael says he doesn’t have a view to expand at the moment.

“If I was 30 years old, I would probably have heaps of plans to tell you about,” he laughs.

“My direct plan right now is not expanding it and going beyond, because I really want it to be so tight and local.

“We’re so new! We’re just so happy to be part of what we’re doing. We love this level of freedom, of experimenting. As it stands to me, this is what we’re doing… just getting busier in that little shop and having a great time doing it!”

However, while Michael and Elise aren’t currently focused on expanding The Bakery and are simply enjoying the success and community acceptance that have come since they opened, they aren’t closing their minds to the possibility of things expanding in the future.

“That does not mean in the longer future that there aren’t new people who’ll come in and take on the running of the place. The opportunities are always there to see what happens down the line,” Michael says.

He and Elise are cognisant of the fact that the younger bakers entering the workforce, and especially those joining The Bakery on Glenayr’s team, may like to take the business further.

Michael Klausen (right) with Farid Hussain

“There’s a gentleman, Farid [pictured above], who’s joined us, and we’ve made him an opportunity to be a part-owner later down the line. He’s a younger guy, and I could envisage the whole thing [being] his later down the line.

“And that would actually make me very happy!” Michael says.

“At some stage, I would probably think it’s time to retire—but there’s many years for that!”

Right now though, The Bakery on Glenayr is taking things day by day and enjoying the community atmosphere and appreciation for what they do.

“Everything is just right about what we’re doing. You know when you just feel like the universe has set everything right? That’s what it feels like.

“It’s been really fun, and the whole idea has just come from me walking past and empty building!” Michael says.

 

Main image: Michael Klausen and Elise Cook outside The Bakery on Glenayr


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