Everyone knows Mr Baker’s Bakeshop. You would have to be living under a rock not to. Having established themselves as a fully-fledged business in 2008, the bakery has since grown into a franchise with several store fronts spread throughout the Sultanate. So, in order to prevent the concept of ‘more of the same’ from rearing its head, the franchise began incorporating aspects of café culture into their business model a few years ago.
This month it is the franchise’s high-end boutique bakery-café – launched in January 2018 and based on the first floor of the Mabohai Shopping Complex – that has caught BHC Magazine’s attention. Well for starters, it certainly looks the part, despite its small size. Capable of accommodating around 22 people at any given time at the café’s dine-in space, this section of the café is brightly lit courtesy of the wide windows at the end of the unit that overlooks the main road. With white walls and a tropical wallpaper motif, as well as a couple of indoor plants with broad bladed leaves, this section is a complete departure from the rest of the café colourwise.
The bakery and food preparation section is mainly black, with the tropical wallpaper extending along one wall contributing to the darker hues in play. This tends to be noticed ever so briefly because of the customised cabinetry affixed to the wall. Designed with open-air square shelves, some of these nooks have takeaway boxes resembling presents, and pre-wrapped baked goods, while the nooks with fresh goodies within are covered by glass panels and are internally lit. White and black tiles, and a marble countertop help present the appearance of a boutique-defined space.
“It was always planned for the bakery to be a boutique business with high end products,” says a senior staff member, Dave, before adding that the owner is proactive and hands-on. “The boss is very familiar with all his products,” Dave starts giggling to himself, before pointing out that there have been a number of times where business owners have asked “What is your secret?” Only to receive the reply, “Because I eat my own products.” There is actually very little that occupies the shelves of any Mr Baker’s Bakeshops and cafes that the owner has not tried, and then presented an opinion on, “because he wants to offer more than good quality, he wants consistency. This is very important to us.”
So in addition to the assortment of pies, puffs, rolls, Danishes, tarts, cookies and cake, of particular interest are the healthy breads. “European breads such as our sourdough are quite popular with the expatriate community. It is usually a top choice when they stop by. We don’t use preservatives in any of our products, as we believe in supporting a healthy nation.” A brief poll conducted by BHC Magazine among a small sample population of Bruneians revealed that the sourdough breads also rate highly with the health-conscious.
The coffee and tea is nothing to balk at either, with tea lovers able to select a range of flavours from the Gryphon brand. More complex, are their coffees. Imported from Australia, the beans are shipped to Common Man Coffee Roasters in Singapore for processing prior to being sent on to Brunei. The coffee beans, which are part of the Five Senses brand, also produces premium drinking chocolate, which is also available here. With taglines such as ‘Our obsession is your reward’, who in their right mind would not want to try a cup?
So loan us your taste buds, sense of smell and sight everyone and be sure to try out this latest café under the MrBaker’s Bakeshop franchise to see if it lives up to the hype.