Swiss Bakers Hosts Grand Opening in Barry's Corner
The Allston neighborhood is the newest hub of authentic Swiss treats.
After months of community anticipation, Swiss Bakers, a family-owned bakery and café, celebrated its grand opening during a packed ceremony Thursday night.
The café represents the newest small business Harvard has brought in to revitalize Barry’s Corner, the area surrounding the intersection of Western Avenue and North Harvard Street in North Allston.
The grand opening drew as many as a thousand people over the span of the evening. Prize baskets were raffled off, and the conversation paused every 10 minutes as the drone of a 10-foot alpenhorn—a traditional Swiss instrument played by a man in traditional Swiss dress—boomed through the crowded café.
Throughout the evening, a staff of co-entrepreneurs—Swiss Bakers does not use the term ‘employee’—offered heaping platters of baked croissants, rolls, and sweets to the guests—who in turn are not called customers.
“We’re all about food-loving and guest-hugging,” said Thomas Stohr, who owns the bakery with his wife Helene.
From the iconic red cow symbolizing Switzerland on the roof of the building to the designated guest-greeter at the door, Stohr said that his priority is to convey Swiss culture to the public.
“Everything you get from us is Swiss,” Stohr said. “We want people to say, ‘I just visited Switzerland without leaving Massachusetts.’”
Kevin Casey, Harvard’s associate vice president for public affairs and communications, said that he believes Swiss Bakers will “contribute to the vibrancy of Barry’s Corner.”
Two years ago, Harvard approached Swiss Bakers about the possibility of the bakery renting the Western Avenue location. The new site is 14,000 square feet, 35 times larger than the company’s flagship location in the Reading train station. To date, Harvard has worked to lease 900,000 square feet of space in Allston to commercial tenants, according to Lisa Hogarty, Harvard’s vice president of campus services.
Hogarty also said that the new Swiss Bakers—which is located in what was once a Volkswagen dealership—along with the recently opened Stone Hearth Pizza Co. represent an attempt by the University to bring pedestrian, rather than automotive, traffic to Barry’s Corner.
Allston Civic Association President Paul Berkeley said that he was looking forward to seeing a diverse array of new businesses open in the area.
In addition to serving the North Allston community, Swiss Bakers food will also stretch across the river to the College campus. According to Hogarty, Crimson Catering will begin to incorporate Swiss Bakers products into its menu.
“Look for it in a dining hall near you,” she said.
—Staff writer Marco Barber Grossi can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @marco_jbg.