Inauspiciously tucked in the wide corridors of TriBeCa, down the long lobby of a 1920s era office building, one can find an unlikely master of one of the world’s oldest professions.
Arcade Bakery is far from the traditional, Parisian-style bakery you might be imagining. The bakery’s founder and proprietor, Roger Gural, has taken the necessary risks to achieve a clear mission – bring the joy back to bread. And he’s done just that. On the way to the office, tenants and employees of 220 Church street are greeted by the wafting scent of freshly baked baguette, pear chocolate danish, poppy seed babka, ham and cheese croissant and Gural’s signature sourdough rye. In fact, the aroma drifts all the way to the sixteenth floor.
Arcade is more than just an exquisite product – the strangely situated bakery also represents many realities of the dwindling bread industry in New York. Upon returning from training in France to his native New York, Gural noticed many discrepancies between the industry at home and abroad. “This whole gluten-free trend, which has no scientific basis, is ruining the industry,” said Gural in an interview with TravelDo.se.
Reminiscing upon a bitter kale smoothie he ordered at a local juice spot, Gural struggled to comprehend why Americans feel like they must torture themselves to attain a healthy diet. “There are so many ways to prepare kale and make it delicious, but most people now just want to inject the health into their bodies. They think that if they cut bread out of their diet, they will be healthier. In reality, it’s possible and natural to follow a healthy diet that includes bread on a daily basis.”
Part of the problem, according to Gural, is the experience that Americans are having with bread in everyday life. “People go to the supermarket and get bread that’s loaded with preservatives and it’s not fresh and it’s not a pleasant experience. Now they’re being told that it’s bad for them. So, it’s easy for them to say ‘I’ll just avoid this altogether.’”
Gural has taken it upon himself to bring the joy back to an ancient experience that has been perverted by the American food industry. In order to accomplish that goal, it must be done in a way that the average American – or New Yorker, in this case – can incorporate into his or her lifestyle. That’s where the window comes in. Those occupying the offices at 220 Church Street, along with all those in the surrounding area, can enjoy a croissant or demi-baguette to begin the day. “The French don’t hesitate to eat a breakfast that consists mainly of bread and they’re much healthier, on average,” said Gural. “My kids and their friends refuse to go near a McDonald’s, but they don’t hesitate to go to Chipotle.”
Though the present may be bleak for the non-pastry baking industry, Arcade has garnered much acclaim and popularity since opening its doors a year ago. “You just have to get up and make a good, worthwhile product and hope that all these trends eventually turn around.” So far, Gural’s intuitive and innovative approach has spelled success.
It’s worth noting that the crew over at Arcade offers a product that tends to appeal to most New Yorkers – pizza.
The fresh, delicious pizzas at Arcade have become a lunchtime staple for the line of regulars who gather around the sales window at noon. Those seeking a quick, cheap slice on the way home should be weary, as the pizzas at Arcade are made with the same amount of time and devotion as the litany of yeasted delicacies presented in the window each morning.