Folks in Danvers Square have another option when it comes to breakfast and lunch at the new Danvers Bakery, located at 16 Maple St. - right downtown.
The bakery is in the same location as the former Saralena's Pastry, which opened nearly two years ago and was set to close due to an illness in the family. Sam Bentalha had been researching business opportunities when he heard the shop was for sale. With a background in owning and operating bakeries and restaurants, the businessman said he knew it was the right move for him, at the right time.
The transfer of ownership dates to before the Thanksgiving holiday, but Bentalha admits he is still smoothing things out with the business, the menu and getting acquainted with his new town.
"I know Danvers is a nice, medium-sized town," he said. "I’m thinking to move back here after my kids finish school in Medford.”
Bentalha went before the board to petition for the name change from Saralena Pastry to Danvers Bakery on Tuesday, Jan. 15, and expects to have the sign above the door changed soon. Changes to the menu will focus on utilizing the full kitchen to best of it's capabilities, while still maintaining the fresh croissants, rolls and delicious pastries the bakery is known for.
“We added a sandwich menu and we're going big on breakfast, with eggs and cheese-everything on our fresh croissants; Good quality, for a good price.” Bentalha explained. “Our advantage is we bake everything right here, we have the full kitchen right here; all the fresh breads and rolls."
Unwilling to reinvent the wheel, Bentalha is keenly aware of the abundance of eateries in the area, and plans to cater to the tastes of the community.
"I really want to hear what is not available here in Danvers, and base it on that. There are three or four (eateries) on my left, a few to my right, there are a lot of businesses here...so I want to give them what they want," he explained. "I may do one or two French dishes, a Moroccan couscous or a Turkish thawrma, which is like a gyro. I'm interviewing people to see what they would like. I'm open to all ideas, but I want to focus on one thing and do it right, and that’s enough for me.”
Bentalha noted there are people living right in the neighborhood who have yet to come in, and he’s hoping the addition of a full breakfast and sandwich menu will be just the thing to bring in the local support.
”Once the sign is changed, and our flyer is done, we will hold a grand opening, likely in February,” he said. "I also want to mention for the Super Bowl we will have platters of buffalo wings, chicken wings, a full sheet of pizza, and pastry platters."
The Moroccan native came to the U.S. in 1987 to attend college. After graduating from Loris University in Iowa, Bentalha, with wife Naina, settled on in Medford to raise daughters Afnane, 8; Farah, 13, and son Ayman, 15, while Bentalha pursued a career in business.
"I had a job working at Chase Manhattan Bank as a network administrator," he explained. "...but in Morocco I own a couple bakeries and a restaurant, so I have a background in running businesses."
Fortunately, the staff employed by Saralena’s has remained in place in the new Danvers Bakery, with the addition of a new cook to handle the expanded menu.
“We hired an Armenian cook who was in business for a long time on Route 1 with his brother, where they had a restaurant; and Steve (Hovnanian) has thirty-plus years experience, so he’s still running a lot of things with the business,” he explained. “He’s hardworking and trustworthy, so that made for an easier transition.”