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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

Senior Emmy Willemin’s employment at Buka Bakehouse provides a place of community and organic interactions

Emmy Willemin

Senior Emmy Willemin and her fellow employees at Buka Bakehouse have kept more than occupied recently. 

Whether it’s the ordering station that is the size of a television at Mcdonald’s, or the tablet kiosks at restaurants like Applebee’s and Olive Garden, every day it seems as though the work for baristas, servers, and waiters gets less and less laborious. While it is common to walk into a restaurant and be greeted by a computer, Emmy and the rest of the bakery’s staff have been hard at work the past few months to ensure a more-than-satisfactory experience for all customers. 

“This past Sunday, we were crazy busy; much more than expected, so we sold out and had to close early,” Emmy said. “So the employees all took the leftovers and had a nice little feast to destress.”

With its opening just this past December, Emmy has become one of the first employees to serve the customers who come to the Balkan bakery. Run by two brothers from Kosovo, the atmosphere and menu of the establishment pull from traditional Balkan roots. The food served includes a cornucopia of both breakfast and dinner options. From sweet and savory pastries and handmade bread to pizza and sandwiches with a Kosovan twist, Emmy and her fellow employees serve not only an expansive menu but one of rich, artisan qualities. 

“[We sell] lots of pastries, freshly made bread, and everything is organic,” said Emmy. “We use organic, unbleached flour for our bread, and there is no added sugar; just salt, water, and flour. Right now we’re doing sort of a soft opening, but we are going to open up a full cafe in the back with a sit-down area.”

Prior to working at Buka, Emmy was an employee of Panera. For the typical customer of Panera and other similar restaurants, one will usually face a digital ordering screen and other electronic devices in the ordering process. While these may prove to be innovative, Emmy and the rest of the environment of the Buka Bakehouse community are centered wholeheartedly around forming deeper, more personal relationships with their customers. From working behind the counter, Emmy has been able to not only familiarize herself with some of the more common customers, but she has also been able to simultaneously familiarize the customers with the welcoming energy of the bakery. 

“I was working in Panera when the owner [of Buka Bakehouse] came in and offered me a job,” Emmy said. “The two places are kind of similar styles. At Panera, though, you’ll have a lot of electronic systems there just ready to order on and it’s all set up for [customers] like that. But at Buka, there’s not as much of that; it’s still set up for you, but there’s a lot more interaction.”

…you’ll have a lot of electronic systems there just ready to order on and it’s all set up for [customers] like that. But at Buka, there’s not as much of that; it’s still set up for you, but there’s a lot more interaction.

— Emmy Willemin

Beyond just the ordering process, the profile of the bakery brings a much-appreciated comfort that truly immerses those in the Balkan culture. For some, making a stop at the bakery for a bite to eat is a staple during the day, a routine much created due to the hospitality of Emmy and her colleagues. Such measures not only set the bakehouse apart from other analogous workplaces, but establish an innermost warmth that is bound to create an atmosphere where those purchasing feel not as just paying customers, but as members of the community. 

“I’d say [the main difference from Panera is that] Buka is a locally owned shop, and you can see everything being made fresh,” Emmy said. “And the interactions with customers are usually more organic at Buka [than at Panera], as [Panera] is such a large corporation.”

Much like their food, the bakery is one of hearty nature, and for Emmy, working there provides an outlet to meet new people of all different backgrounds, stories, and walks of life. For what some may consider a simple after-school job, the experience of working at Buka has come to be much more for Emmy. 

“We have some very regular customers who will come in pretty much every day,” Emmy said. “At Buka, I spend most of my time at the front, interacting with customers and getting their orders ready. We know a lot of our customers by name, and we really do build those connections with them.”

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About the Contributor
Kathryn Campbell
Kathryn Campbell, Staff Writer

Kathryn Campbell is a freshman entering her first year on The Central Trend. When she’s not at school, you can find her playing competitive ice hockey for Fox Motors Hockey Club. She has just completed her 6th year playing travel soccer and hopes to compete for the high school this spring. Her other hobbies include listening to music, writing, and hanging out with her friends. She is very enthusiastic about her next four years of high school and plans to make as many memories as she can. She is especially excited about all that awaits her in room 139.

Her favorite album: SOS by SZA Her lucky number: 4 Her go-to animated movie: Hercules Her favorite holiday: Christmas  

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