Go ahead. Step into Patis Bakery when it officially opens to the public in the very near future and walk out of there empty handed, without having tasted or purchased a single crumb of its heavenly breads or spectacular baked goods. I dare you.
Trust me when I tell you that just the waft alone of fresh artisan breads, croissants, cakes and, of course, freshly brewed coffee will have you following your nose to 323 Ridge Road in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, where Chef Moses Wendel, formerly of the iconic Pardes restaurant in Brooklyn, has created something truly special. A high-caliber French-American bakery that refuses to compromise on quality, taste or its exacting religious standards, Patis aims to draw customers from both the kosher and non-kosher worlds with its enticing product lineup.
“Even the best kosher chef in the universe is going to find that the market for non-kosher clientele is going to be largely only people that have to go to a kosher restaurant, and even if they think you are great, they are still going to come back every six months when they absolutely have to,” Wendel told The Jewish Link. “I have always been excited about the idea of doing a kosher concept that appeals to everybody. We want to make people happy on our terms, creating interesting food that happens to be kosher.”
Under the rabbinical supervision of the Orthodox Union and Rabbi Yechezkel Auerbach of Lakewood, Patis will be producing its pas Yisroel creations in a 20,000-square-foot facility that has two kitchens: one baking up pareve products, including breads and challahs, and another dedicated exclusively to cholov Yisroel, dairy goodies. Occupying the space that housed the busiest bakery in New Jersey for almost seven decades, Patis has been completely redone; customers walking into the storefront will find themselves in a spacious area surrounded by cool blues and greys with inviting seating for those who want to linger over a just-brewed coffee, and seemingly endless display cases filled with diet-killing temptations.
Located just five minutes from Passaic, approximately 20 minutes from Teaneck and 35 minutes from Monsey, Patis has the makings of a destination bakery and will also be serving up quiches and sandwiches, but Lyndhurst is just the beginning for Wendel’s new venture. Two more sites in Flatbush and in Cedarhurst have already been identified, both of which will be serving up an expanded menu built around fresh baked goods from Lyndhurst and will also feature full bars.
“This location will be our launching point,” explained Wendel. “This is the brain of the operation and we are going to build arms. Right now there are two, but there will be more.”
Wendel is quick to note that he is just one component of the equation at Patis, an operation that is very much the sum of its parts.
“I always had an amazing staff at Pardes who was on board with me and they were key players in the restaurants, whose personalities came through in the food, and I was able to guide the team in that direction,” said Wendel. “Here, I am blessed again with an amazingly talented staff who are experts in the field. There are some killers in this kitchen and it is a pleasure to guide them and to be behind them.”
Wendel describes breadmaker Russel Bristol as a master at his craft, one who elevates bread to an art form. He lavishes similar accolades on executive pastry chef Khalil Debira who spent years honing his talents in the finest bakeries in Paris, both kosher and non-kosher.
The question of what steered Wendel towards baked goods after years of wowing diners at Pardes is one that begs to be asked.
“If you are going to do something big and you have one separate entity to start first, it is the bakery, because baked goods go into everything,” explained Wendel. “You are going to need bread. You are going to need desserts. You don’t need a meat restaurant to feed a bakery, but you do need a bakery to feed a meat restaurant.”
The notion of launching a new fine-dining restaurant was summarily dismissed after thoughtful contemplation of today’s dining trends. Instead, Patis has been developed around a fast casual-dining concept.
“No one is all that interested in high-end service and spending an extra 20 percent on their bill for that,” noted Wendel. “People are busy in their lives—they don’t even shop anymore, they just order on Amazon. Customers are leaning towards a faster experience and they aren’t looking for a three-hour meal like they used to, so we are investing our time, our infrastructure and our money in a situation that can please guests and the way they work now.”
Wendel is looking forward to a tantalizing array of baked goods at Patis including s’mores croissants stuffed with house-made marshmallows and high-quality chocolate, a Provencal basil-water challah and meeting the challenge of creating seriously good babka. In addition to serving customers in Lyndhurst, Wendel expects to be supplying caterers and retail locations, following the Pardes model of doing riffs on American classics, this time a high-end bakery experience. Despite his own reputation in the kosher food world and his personal experience in pastry, Wendel looks forward to letting his staff do what they do best.
“We have some pretty incredible talent here and I think you will feel my hand in it a little bit, but the truth is with this kind of talent they don’t need me mixing in all the time,” said Wendel. “It is my pleasure to step into more of a guiding role and while I am still putting in the hours and making the place work, but this isn’t about me. We are trying to build a company and all of us here know what we are doing, what our goals are, and really, that is bigger than all of us.”
By Sandy Eller
Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who writes for numerous websites, newspapers, magazines and many private clients. She can be contacted at [email protected]