A non-profit bakery and cafe with a social mission in Roxbury’s Nubian Square neighborhood (previously known as Dudley Square) has reopened after a yearlong hiatus: Haley House Bakery Cafe, which closed in January 2019, is back. The bakery and cafe is run by Haley House, a non-profit community organization in Roxbury and the South End that provides people with food and housing support.
The newly reopened bakery and cafe is currently operating with limited hours (Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m.) but plans to expand its hours on February 1.
Haley House Bakery Cafe closed its doors last year because changes to the neighborhood made its original business model unsustainable, but even as it was closing, the plan was always to find a way to restructure and reopen.
“Our renewal efforts will focus on the most productive way to continue serving the Roxbury community while building on the Cafe’s legacy of vibrant, community-driven programming and supportive employment opportunities,” the organization said in a statement at the time.
A year later, the Haley House Bakery Cafe has done exactly that.
“We took a deep look at how we could maintain this bakery cafe as a community resource,” said Bing Broderick, executive director of Haley House, in a statement. “We found that in order to be sustainable we had to make important decisions that involved hard work and change to ultimately deepen and expand the impact of our work in Roxbury, especially related to employment and training for people facing barriers to success at our social enterprise.”
With the help of Joe Grafton (of consulting firm ReThink Restaurants) and Irene Li (a Haley House board member and co-owner of Mei Mei), the bakery and cafe has devised a business plan that includes open-book management, which is at the core of ReThink’s philosophy and is something Mei Mei has practiced since 2017. Each member of the Haley House staff is fully trained on the operations of the restaurant, including how to understand and interpret the financials.
“The current team completed the first intensive training session and all future hires will also receive the training,” according to a statement from the organization. “This training will allow staff to participate in critical decision-making about the business operations.”
Haley House Bakery Cafe hired Misha Thomas, who has deep roots in Roxbury, as general manager; her family has lived in the neighborhood for more than 100 years, collectively, she told Eater. Thomas — who previously held managerial roles at Mooncusser Fish House, South End Buttery, and Area Four — has helped update the bakery and cafe’s menu.
Thomas told Eater she was influenced by time she spent in Ghana and parts of the Caribbean, as well as her time spent working in fine-dining. Kristin Simone (who redesigned the space’s interior) and Ricardo Monroy (who helps operate Haley House’s youth cooking program, Take Back the Kitchen) also helped with the menu revamp.
“We wanted to see what we could do with those influences and offer people in this neighborhood something interesting,” Thomas told Eater.
While the bakery is operating under limited hours, the menu will closely resemble the full menu the venue plans to roll out on February 1, Thomas said, so excited diners can stop by anytime to get a taste of the new treats Haley House Bakery Cafe is dishing out.