Best Bakery Opening Day Ever

Newton I once got a job at a kosher and pareve bakery in Newton, Massachusetts, a residential town where a dense population of Jewish families reside. I am not Jewish and I didn’t have any real bakery experience at the time but I made myself hard not to hire by presenting a handmade gingerbread house, a berry galette, and a plate of cookies at my interview. I got the job under the condition that I would have to wait for opening day, an unknown number of weeks ahead.

The owners of the new establishment had planned a soft opening, meaning no advertisements and zero marketing dollars were invested. There were no decorations hanging on the minty green inside walls. There was not yet a storefront sign nor any indication that the space was about to become operational. However they used word of mouth to spread the message throughout the local Jewish community that their bakery would open its doors on said Friday of that month.

My opening day shift began at 3 AM with the task of bagging piles of golden braided challah while craning my neck to watch the pastry chef book giant slabs of laminated dough. I sliced seed bread, lined trays with jam danishes, stacked a variety of flavors of rugelach, arranged hamantaschen into clever geometric patterns, and hand wrote signs for all the new products filling the case.

At 6 AM, when we officially opened for business, the first customers burst into the new space hollering, Mazel Tov! By 10 AM, there was a line out the door. The register dinged opened and closed, cookies were bagged, bread exchanged hands, and words of encouragement were heaped onto the new business owner. The crowd was incredible, like the kind you’d see at Mike’s Pastry in the North End of Boston. I could hardly believe that on opening day, we were in the weeds from open till close.

The Jewish community of Newton, Massachusetts proved on that Friday before the Sabbath just how camaraderie in business has a way of getting the job done. They all showed up. They all bought a little something. In that small and humble bakery with no sign, by the power of group loyalty, one “soft opening” was an epic success.

If you like this story and care to participate in a similar kind of group effort, check out the Bakery Linkathon and my For Women in Business initiatives.

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