WESTPORT — Max London, whose parents started the well-regarded Mrs. London’s Bakery in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. in the late 1970s, has announced plans to open a second location of the bakery at 44 Church Lane in Westport.
“We’re targeting early February, hopefully for Valentine’s Day,” London told CT Examiner by phone on Monday.
London, who grew up in his parents’ bakery, said it has always been a dream to expand the Mrs. London’s name and brand.
“It’s my family’s name and we’re proud of that and proud of the fact that we can still put out a great product, and we’re still making everything from scratch and we want to share that. It is a labor of love and you have to be passionate about it,” he said.
He said he and his business partner, Justin Manfro, who lives in the Westport area, had been scouting for a second location within three hours of Saratoga Springs so that some items like specialty cakes could be baked in Saratoga and delivered to the new location.
“We don’t have as large a production space in Westport as we do in Saratoga,” he said, adding that some doughs will be prepared in Saratoga and then proofed and baked in Westport each morning.
He said the bakery will continue with its specialty viennoiserie as well the classic croissant, pain au chocolat, danish, brioche and puff pastry selections.
“Our number one selling item is our signature almond croissant plus we do a lemon almond croissant, cheese danish, and a chocolate brioche,” he said. “We certainly have a wide variety and everyone has their favorites and they’re all good in their own way.”
London said that he is opening the new location with business partner Justin Manfro, who lives in the Westport area and found the 44 Church Lane location. In a separate venture, Manfro and business partner Ryan Venezia formed Saratoga Hospitality Group, which purchased Mrs. London’s Bakery and the adjacent Max London’s Restaurant from Max London’s parents in 2014.
London, 42, said he was raised in the original Mrs. London’s location on Phila Street in Saratoga Springs. His parents, Wendy and Michael London, met at a New York City bakery and decided to move to Saratoga Springs to open their own bakery in 1977.
“I literally grew up in the bakery, helping carry flour bags and even sleeping on flour bags at times. Me and my sister would help my parents mix doughs and everything,” London said. “The rewards were getting fresh baked goods and bread out of the oven.”
He said the bakery was named after his mother because of her extraordinary cooking and baking skills.
“She’s the best baker and cook that I know. Everything she makes is the best version of itself, I can’t stress that enough. She is just amazing and everything she makes is exquisite — and that’s probably what my father saw as well — and that’s why they chose to name the business after her.”
His parents closed the bakery around 1985 to focus on making bread at their Rock Hill Bakehouse, which they started in their farmhouse kitchen.
“They supplied bread to all the best restaurants in New York City and they consulted for Whole Foods. They were just really focused on bread for a period of time and then [in 1996] they decided to reopen the current version of Mrs. London’s that we still have on Broadway in Saratoga and that we’re expanding,” London said,
In 2007, right next door to Mrs. London’s Bakery, the family opened Max London’s restaurant that serves dinner nightly and brunch Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“That’s one of the really exciting things about Westport is we’re going to be doing some of our most beloved brunch items [there] as well,” he said. “We do a crème brûlée French toast, blue corn pancakes, a smoked chicken hash with poached eggs. We’re doing a version of a benedict and we’ll do some specials.”
London said the Westport location has a dining room with tables and the decision to offer table service is “likely” but still pending in the current pandemic environment.
“We’ll definitely be focusing on takeout and to go. Even at our Saratoga location, more than half of our business is take out,” he said. “We have lots of grab-and-go — pastries, cookies, sandwiches, salads.”
For first-time visitors, London recommended trying the almond croissant.
“For the chocolate lover — our nebula cake is milk chocolate and dark chocolate mousse surrounded by chocolate cake. Also, the fresh fruit tart with vanilla creme and fresh berries, or our classic crème brûlée. You can’t go wrong with anything.”
He also recommended visitors try items from the savory menu like the quiche — either made with spinach, leeks and gruyere cheese or bacon, ham and cheese.
“The classic creamy tomato soup — which is still my mom’s recipe — is a favorite. And it goes on perfectly with one of our sandwiches. We do a ham and cheese croquette and a smoked chicken panini with fontina and roasted red pepper mayo,” he said.
The bakery offers a number of gluten free options including French macarons that are made with almond flour and an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie made with oat flour. The creme brulee, Nebula cake and chocolate raspberry supreme cake are also gluten free, he said.
He said that people familiar with Mrs. London’s Bakery have stopped in to say hello at the new location.
“It’s been great. In the process of getting open, we have a lot of people walk in and they’re really excited. Some know of us through Saratoga and have been there through their travels. It’s good to know that people are looking forward to it,” he said.
He said he’s been looking for a second location that felt right in terms of community, with the same kind of feel as downtown Saratoga Springs.
“This being closer to New York City and a little more populous area, it just really felt right. It’s just really beautiful and we’re excited to open in Westport,” London said.