When Bakey exploded on Boston’s food scene in 2021, it got a rise out of local bread lovers. Bakey was co-founded by Uri Scheft, a well-known Israeli baker who created Lehamim Bakery, a sensation in Tel Aviv. Scheft also authored carb bible “Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking.” The stateside café sells oven-fresh breads, hot-buttered babkas, sweet and savory buns and cheese-stuffed burekas. Despite the pandemic, it succeeded.
Now Bakey has a new—and less high-profile—location. The newest café recently opened on the ground floor of 2Life Communities’ Brown Family House outside Coolidge Corner, which offers affordable senior living for adults 62 and over. 2Life Communities is guided by Jewish values and principles; its name is derived from the Hebrew “L’chaim,” or “to life.”
Or, in this case, to delicious food. Bakey is a true community effort for co-founder Or Ohana because he lives down the street, and his three kids go to school nearby. This is his neighborhood café.
“It was very important for me to introduce myself. We hosted a meeting with all the residents, showed them the bakery, brought samples of all our products. I see this as a place where families can gather. They don’t have to sit in the lobby; this is easy and comfortable for them. And, as for me, it’s another way to show my team that we’re part of a community,” says Ohana, who declares that cinnamon babka is Bakey’s must-try item.
Several food businesses vied for a place inside the building. It was important for the 2Life team to secure a restaurant tenant, since the space is designed for independent living, without meals. According to Brown’s executive director, Cindy Katzeff, Bakey quickly won over the team.
“They were engaging, warm, really pleasant, and seemed to understand what a senior was looking for and what a senior needed,” she says. Importantly, Bakey is also kosher.
Katzeff wanted to ensure that residents would feel comfortable lingering with visiting grandchildren or coming in from the cold to stay awhile, and that whatever restaurant moved in would function as a gathering place.
“We wanted people to feel welcome and to be able to be in a spot without feeling uncomfortable. This was incredibly important,” she says.
The team at Bakey, she says, understood. But the story wasn’t always so sweet. Construction for the residences began during 2019, and the building opened its 60 apartments in September 2020, in the thick of COVID-19. Due to this, Bakey was only able to open within the building a few months ago—but, she says, it was worth the wait.
“The residents were excited about the fact that the commercial space was coming. They would pop in to watch it being put together, asked lots of questions, and when Bakey did an event for them so they could sample their different goods, the residents came in droves,” she says. “It’s part of our mission to make sure residents live their best life when they’re with us—and this really made sense for us, because of the social connection they provided.”
Bakey is open to the public, and already it’s evolved into a neighborhood hub. There are many schools nearby, and parents often pop in after drop-off and pickup. Residents often chat with younger visitors, too.
“It’s so heartwarming to see that intergenerational piece play out, when it was never really thought of or designed to be that. And yet, organically, it’s just there,” Katzeff says. “There’s no: ‘Move along. You’ve been here too long.’ Nothing like that. We’re thrilled.”
In other happy news, Bakey will expand to Newton this summer, starting with a pop-up at 749 Beacon St., with longer hours to follow. In the meantime, stop by its Brookline location—and check out our guide on what to order.