By Ted Yoakum
Judy Sarkozy and her family’s community renowned oatmeal bread have found a new home in downtown Kalamazoo, though they need to raise a little dough before they once again fire up their ovens.
The owner and her staff announced on Wednesday afternoon that Sarkozy Bakery will lease space from Columbia Plaza, located at 350 E. Michigan Ave. The new location will occupy a significant portion of west wing on the 1st floor of the complex.
The two parties finally reached their agreement one hour before the announcement, though Sarkozy said her and the office building have been in negotiations since late May.
“We see a long and exciting relationship with the Sarkozy Bakery that will enhance our building and occupants as well as the vibrant East end neighborhood as a whole,” said Mac Woldorf, Columbia Plaza’s managing partner in a company press release. “Businesses such as Sarkozy Bakery epitomize the tradition and spirit of Kalamazoo and we are proud to be part of their future.”
The deal is a significant step in the revival of the Kalamazoo institution. The business was left with an uncertain future after its original building was destroyed by a furnace fire back in February.
However, Sarkozy and her partners still face a significant obstacle toward the reopening of the business: at least $200,000 in funding, Sarkozy said.
In order to help reach that goal, the business is launching the Sarkozy Bakery “Raising Dough” fundraiser campaign. In the coming weeks, a number of local businesses will be hosting events featuring various kinds of entertainment, with all proceeds going to reconstruction effort.
In addition, interested donors can invest in the business via Keystone Community Bank, or they can participate in the business’ “Buy Your Bread Ahead” program, in which participants can send in money that will be deposited into a personal account once the bakery reopens.
Although there is no current timeline or deadline for meeting their funding target, Sarkozy announced that the construction at their Columbia Plaza location should take around four to five months to complete. Blueprints for the new space have already been completed, due in large part to the efforts of architects Roger Lepley and Arno Yurk, who volunteered their help to Sarkozy shortly after the fire in February.
“[Sarkozy] is a hoot to work with,” Lepley said.
This project is a reunion of sorts between the two architects and the bakery. The pair worked with the former owner, Ken Sarkozy, back in 1983 to renovate the original building. Although Lepley and Yurk parted ways for different firms nearly a decade later, they decided to work together once again in order to help restore the nearly four decade old bakery.
Sarkozy’s support hasn’t been limited to business partners and architects, though. During the announcement, Sarkozy’s owner praised the members of the local community, thanking them for their support over the past eight months.
“We have been overwhelmed by the community’s response since the fire,” Sarkozy said.
While the business owner said their was a period during which she was unsure of the future of her shop, the deluge of support from her former customers pushed her toward reviving the bakery. Before Sarkozy even announced her decision to push forward with plans to reopen, around $10,000 had been collected by local citizens to help rebuild, Sarkozy said.
“We have accepted a heavy responsibility,” Sarkozy said. “We have dedicated ourselves to bread, and we have dedicated ourselves to our community.”
Times and dates for upcoming “Raising Dough” events can be found at Sarkozy Bakery’s new website, sarkozybakery.com.