Sunday, February 26, 2012

We're with You, Judy Sarkozy

Fire at Sarkozy's Bakery brings community together to grieve a Kalamazoo landmark and legend

Table One at Sarkozy's on Saturdays at 10 was the place to meet friends and talk about the issues of the day.  Judy is in white with the black hat.  The picture gallery on the wall includes stories of the bakery, photos of famous bakers, and World War II posters about saving wheat.

Another view of Table One in 2008

More than just a bakery or a business  
Judy Sarkozy, not only baked wonderful European-style breads, but she has served as beacon of light for the people of Kalamazoo. 

Judy welcomed all people to the bakery.

Judy hired people many businesses would skip over, and then she trained them to be responsible employees.  She paid her staff more than the minimum wage and supplied them with health insurance.  They worked hard for Judy and enjoyed making bread and serving customers.

Judy gathered Table One every Saturday morning at 10 where friends visited with each other and talked about the day's issues.

Judy initiated various community events including the popular New Year's Eve Fest that provides non-alcoholic family entertainment with singers, dancers, musicians, magicians, storytellers in downtown churches and establishments. 

Judy has regularly donated her leftover baked goods to the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission just down the street from her shop.  Since 2001, Sarkozy's has donated more than 140,000 lbs. of bread to support anti-hunger programs at Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes.

Actually, she did so many things for the community that the YWCA awarded her the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

While it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a leader who initiates a ways for people to gather, eat, celebrate and enjoy life.  Judy Sarkozy has done that for Kalamazoo!

May God bless Judy as she faces this tragedy not alone, but with all of us.  May we remember that the pain of this terrible loss to our community will not destroy us.



More from the Gazette 

Bonny Podiak, of Portage, shops for Sarkozy bread at the D&W Fresh Market on Parkview Avenue. Podiak had gone to Sarkozy Bakery in the morning to buy bread for a dinner party and saw the firefighters there. "It's just sad, " Podiak said, adding that she hopes Sarkozy bread will be back. At left, Roger Smith, a manager at D&W Fresh Market, restocks the shelves with bread with the fresh date ending on the weekend.

Larry Bell, owner of Bell's Brewery discusses the loss.  He worked at the bakery as a young man.


Monday morning Gazette editorial

...Sarkozy Bakery was about more than just baking bread and keeping us fat and happy. It was one of those unique treasures that we like to believe could have only been born and bred here, because of the people involved, the devotion of the owners and customers alike. Judy Sarkozy was an ardent advocate for downtown and the city. The customers were not just customers, they were fans and friends, and on Saturday mornings the bakery was famous for its coffee klatch, which gathered at the cafe tables to nibble and sip, talk about Kalamazoo and nurture friendships.

Whatever happens next for Judy Sarkozy and the bakery, we would like to say thank you for all the years of feeding us those delectable treats and nourishing our souls with your generosity of spirit and and an enduring sense of community.  READ COMPLETE EDITORIAL HERE

Sentiments from Sarkozy's customers and friends

Gorilla Gourmet on Oakland Drive put out a sign

A Facebook page has been started called Save Sarkozy's.  It is a community bulletin board featuring fond memories and sentiments about a tragedy that has touched the whole community.  It's goals is to provide "a space to leave information about what we can do as a community to help Judy Sarkozy, the employees and their families who work there, and the bakery itself."

D&W Freshmarket weighed in on the grief at its Sarkozy bread counter.  Store director Bill Micheals put up a poster inviting customers to write Judy a message.  In just two days the poster was covered front and back and a new one was put up.

Here is Bill's personal message to Judy that he taped to the poster.


The Devastation

Photos on Monday morning of a very lonely street.  A few passersby, one with a camera, checked out the building.  Police have roped off the area and the fire marshal prohibits people from getting close to the building.

Renovation of the Rickman House into a condominium development was a prime place for an adjacent bakery.  During construction, Judy had to let people know the bakery was still open.

The Future?
Offers pour in from Kalamazoo community while Sarkozys weigh whether to rebuild

It only took a couple days before the community pitched in to offer Judy Sarkozy help.  Check out this wonderful story by Yvonne Zipp of the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Rob Peterson of DKI is working to coordinate the effort.

“I probably have at least a few dozen emails offering some form of assistance,” said Rob Peterson, business recruitment and retention director for Downtown Kalamazoo Inc., which offered to act as a contact for community members who wanted to support Ken and Judy Sarkozy. The emails range from “everything from ‘please let me know what I can do’ to ‘I have an oven she can use.’"


  1. Thanks for covering this moving tragedy, Olga. So many concerns, so many memories, so many questions. Sad, sad, sad. Thank God no one was seriously injured, and we are so very fortunate to have great public safety/fire fighters to handle our moments of horror. Thanks for getting this out, Olga.
    Soon, Peace, Karen Chadwick

  2. Just a correction that the Rickman House is NOT being developed into condominiums. It is being remodeled into small efficiency apartments to serve the population it served prior to the rennovation - persons with disabilities and those who have been homeless. It was on schedule to re-open in July/August of this year. We are uncertain of any changes in that plan at this point. Our hearts go out to our neighbor and her employees. It's a big blow to our neighborhood.

    1. I apologize for getting this wrong. I heard wrong.
      Thanks for the correction.

  3. Thanks for this nice coverage Olga. It's just so incredibly sad. The community is ready to support Judy and Sarkozy Bakery but can also be patient and give Judy and Ken the space to grieve and figure out what feels right for them.

    Lucy Bland
    Program Manager
    Fair Food Matters Can-Do Kitchen

  4. Thanks so much for your coverage of this Olga. Downtown has lost one
    of our treasures but most importantly we have not lost Judy.

    John Schmitt
    Senior Business Consultant
    Haworth College of Business
    Western Michigan University