The smell of bread from Sarkozy’s bakery wafted out the front doors and mixed with the fall breeze. Kalamazoo residents gathered reflecting on their weeks, resting in the serene atmosphere.
Naturalistic paintings of Michigan landscape by Paul Robert cover the walls, The Brass Rail quintet jam with ease in the back of the bakery near the kitchen. Customers chat under the warm yellow light with paczkis and oatmeal bread on their white porcelain dishes. Judy Sarkozy – head baker and host of the day – was roaming around inviting everyone to smell and taste pawpaws. I sat down with her husband Ken Sarkozy for a talk.
“After graduation, both of us studying Psychology, we moved here from Detroit. Chances that we could get jobs in the same place was small, still we picked a place first then deal with that later, and our friends said Kalamazoo was a nice city”.
Judy wanted to open a business, both her and Ken were inspired by Julia Child. There was an old broken bakery for sale on Burdick Street, recalled Ken. The previous owner sold it cheap as he wished to get out of the baking industry quickly. The couple later moved two doors down from the original location, and that was where Sarkozy bakery officially opened in February 28th, 1978.
“That building caught fire in 2012. Everything was torn down, and we could not open for 2 years. Luckily there were a lot of donations from people in town, and we have friends who were architects and did the work without any payment,” said Ken.
With a large amount of local support, Sarkozy Bakery opened its doors again in 2014 at 350 E Michigan Avenue, the current location.
Sarkozy has become a Kalamazoo treasure for its cozy space and baked goods. Local bread enthusiasts claim the bread at Sarkozy’s tastes better than that in Europe.
“A woman has been coming here for 30 years or so”, Ken said, “usually ordering French bread or oatmeal I think. See the big potted plant we place on the right side? She gave it to us, it was too big for her home”.
The conversation continued after our apple pie roll-ups and quiché were finished. Ken told me about how he and Judy operate the bakery and how they first learned to bake. Ken said the most unique thing about the bakery is his wife.