Umber Ahmad, the creator of critical darling Mah-Ze-Dahr, says she felt like Goldilocks for the past year as she searched for a home for her baking company. Every place she looked at was either too small, or in the wrong location, or had some other problem with it. Finally, she settled on a former Korean nail salon at 28 Greenwich Avenue. Despite the staircase in the middle of the room and an aquarium, Ahmad says: "I really fell in love with it." On Monday, she will start the approval process for construction and she hopes to open the doors in about five months.
The 800-square foot space and an even bigger basement will let Ahmad and pastry chef Shelly Acuña move out of a small segment of the ‘wichcraft they have been using and expand their menu. Up until now, Ahmad has focused on e-commerce, and baked goods like brownies and hand pies that ship well. At the bakery and cafe she plans add more tarts and pavlovas, desserts that need to be served just after being made. She will also offer ice creams.
She and Acuña are currently testing a toasted coconut ice cream, as well as a sweet cream and a rocky road made with the bakery's own marshmallows. Other sweets in development include a pineapple and thyme hand pie. "Our fruit combinations will bleed into our ice creams," says Ahmad. There will be a few savory options like Moroccan chicken hand-pie (like a pastilla) and a roasted mushroom and fontina hand-pie. To accompany the pastries, there will be tea and coffee pairings with the latter coming from Intelligentsia, which already custom brews for Mah-Ze-Dahr.
Once things settle in, Ahmad may expand her scope beyond food. "Mah-Ze-Dahr has always been a lifestyle brand... It's about being able to create and embody a feeling around the food," says Ahmad. There are "a lot of natural extension that come through making food and we area already exploring some of those."