If it’s been a while since you ventured to South Milwaukee, you might want to make it a point to pay a visit. Recent years have brought numerous new businesses to Milwaukee Street, a growing Downtown strip which currently houses businesses including South Milwaukee Sausage and Meats, Immortal Toys & Collectables and Omen Subculture clothing stores along with longer term businesses like Avenue Coffeehouse.
Soon, there will also be a new spot where you can satiate your sweet tooth.
Bakehouse 23 – a retail bakery specializing in whimsical, creative sweet and savory treats – will be opening its doors at 1309 Milwaukee Ave., with a soft opening debut planned for Saturday, Feb. 11.
Behind the bakery is longtime pastry chef Sarah Mironczuk who launched the Bakehouse 23 concept in early 2022 alongside her husband, Kirk Skorlinski (also a chef). Initially, they operated out of a commercial kitchen space at the Branch at 1501 in Racine. There, she began making baked goods to sell to the public as well as wholesale accounts like Wonderland (Riverwest), Esperanza Coffee Collective (Racine) and X-Ray Arcade (Cudahy).
Mironczuk says she hopes to build on that business with her new venture, which she says will start off as a little boutique bakery where she can showcase some of the things that she loves best.
The little 1,000 foot shop, she says, will feature an open kitchen, offering guests a bird’s eye view of the action and allowing her to work, while still paying attention to customers who walk through the door.
“It will be very interactive,” notes Mironczuk. “You'll be able to smell everything and see things being baked."
Guests will also be able to add their doodles, notes and drawings to the chalk-painted bakery counter when they visit.
Expect the unexpected
Prior to branching out on her own, the Le Cordon Bleu pastry graduate’s career spanned work at a variety of local venues including Art Bar, Harbor House, c.1880, Rocket Baby Bakery and work for Hospitality Democracy (now Benson’s Restaurant Group) where she met her husband.
Back in 2012, while she was pastry chef at Harbor House, she also competed on the Halloween Episode of the Food Network’s "Sweet Genius.” She won the final round of the competition with a spider-shaped white butter cake flavored with cayenne, covered with chile oil buttercream, and garnished with black radish butterscotch sauce and a sprinkling of crushed ice cream cones.
And while that experience took place nearly a decade ago, it aptly showcased the delicious creativity and whimsy that forms the foundation of Mironczuk’s work.
It’s an element that guests will witness in full glory at Bakehouse 23, where Mironczuk – no longer confined by the vision of an employer – will be free to showcase the full spectrum of her creativity.
On the menu
Unlike other bakeries, which focus on elaborately decorated cakes or viennoiseries like croissants, Mironczuk says her focus will be on making things she loves and which have resonated with her customers. That includes a mix of traditional, vegan and gluten-free offerings.
"I’m going to try to stay true to what I love doing,” she says, “I want to focus on fun twists on classic items. And I want my baked goods to incorporate color, plus layers of flavor and texture.”
That includes classics like Kosmic brownies, strawberry crunch cheesecake, giant sea salt chocolate chip and fun-fetti cookies and vegan cowboy cookies.
“I’ll also bring in bento cakes,” she says, referring to 3-4 inch cakes which are the perfect size to function as a treat for one person.
She says she’ll also focus on creations using brioche, one of her favorite bread doughs. That might include brioche bombs filled with chive cream cheese or – moving forward – a ham and cheese brioche using product from neighboring business South Milwaukee Sausage and Meats.
Moving forward, she says, she’d also like to roll out items like dog treats to satiate customers’ furry friends.
Mironczuk says she wants her bakery to be a place where folks can come to grab treats off the shelf. But she’d also like to cater to customers who’d like more customized desserts.
“I won’t be the baker to go to for large tiered wedding cakes,” she says. “But I love doing miniature desserts, pudding cups, dirt cake type things. And I’d really love to collaborate with my customers to create truly unique custom creations.”
Mironczuk says that choosing to establish the bakery was a very intentional decision.
“We have family in the area. My kids go to school in South Milwaukee,” she says. “And in more recent years, the strip on Milwaukee Avenue has been building momentum. Since it’s become more of a walkable community where people can peruse different shops, I’m really excited to think that people who are out shopping can wander in to pick up a treat.”
In fact, she says she and Skorlinski have long term plans for the bakery, which include purchasing the building and evolving the business into more of a bakery and cafe.
But she emphasizes that they’re taking things one step at a time.
“This is sort of like a Marvel Movie: phase one, phase two and phase three,” she says. “We’ll start out with a more traditional retail bakery concept, and when that’s running solidly, we’ll move on from there.”
Looking for delicious-but-unique treats for Valentine’s Day? Mironczuk says she’s planning a cadre of themed desserts including vegan black velvet bento cake, red velvet ooey gooey bars, chocolate covered strawberry bento cake, chocolate cherry brioche tarts and tiramisu for two.
Beginning Feb. 11, Bakehouse 23 will be open Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Monday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Tuesday and Wednesday).
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.