Just as fast as eager customers made their way inside the novel spot, folks were scurrying out with smiles on their faces and doughnut-style boxes packed with goodies in their arms. Others walked out slowly, trying to avoid the frenzy and grasping their gourmet cakes handcrafted by the bakery's award-winning chefs.
The bakers work hard to keep the shelves stocked with fresh pastries throughout the day, but on that opening Saturday, the demand was high leaving some slots on the shelves bare.
"On that Saturday, we probably served around 300 to 400 people," says the Chandler store's supervisor Kyra Campbell. "It was crazy."
The new Chandler store is part of a chain that first opened in southern California in 2008. Now there are over 1,000 locations worldwide. The Dobson Road and West Chandler Boulevard locale is the first 85°C Bakery Cafe in Arizona.
The new bakery and cafe is trending within local food groups on Facebook. On one forum, Christy R. posted, "They have some of the best bakery items I’ve ever had. Tons of stuff we can’t find at all the other little bakeries around here and some unique stuff too. Plus, it has a cult following, kind of like In-N-Out."
And like In-N-Out Burger's notorious drive-thru lines, 85°C Bakery Cafe's line goes out the door and sometimes snakes around the block.
A considerable part of the allure of the new Chandler bakery and cafe is the setup and experience. Once customers walk into the modern bakery with lofty-high ceilings and artistically exposed air ducts, they are greeted by stanchions. The stanchions lead the customers through a small maze of shelving and glass cases filled with baked goods.
Sometimes the lines are slow, as people take their time reading the signs explaining the unique pieces of bread for sale. While waiting, customers can watch the busy staff work within the confines of the glossy tile and brick walls ladened with themed contemporary art and neon-lit verbiage.
"Our more expensive items would be our cakes or drinks, but only at about $4 per cake slice and $5 for drinks," Campbell says. "Our cheapest items must be our bread, some being as cheap as $1.25 and as much as $3. Our top three breads always selling out are our Marble Taro, Hokkaido Custard Bun, and our Brioche."
The bakery also creates savory pastries, including Jalapeño Cream Cheese bread, a Spicy Sausage bread that has cheese and is topped with Sriracha and mayonnaise, and a Pork Sung Bun, a soft Taiwanese bun topped with dry shredded pork and 85°C house-blended mayo sauce.
Once the customers make it to the front of the line, they can order coffee and tea drinks, including Vietnamese coffee, flavored lattes, Sea Salt Oolong tea, boba teas, and Zebra Oolong milk teas. The 85°C signature coffee with espresso shots and cream and sugar is a popular choice. In addition, the baristas make fruity drinks, including peach green tea, red grapefruit green tea, taro lavender lattes, and mango strawberry smoothies.
So Wu envisioned a casual cafe that served high-quality pastries and coffee at more affordable prices. In 2008, he opened his first 85°C Bakery Cafe in Irvine, California. Over 14 years later metro Phoenix residents can now experience Wu's vision.
The cafe will celebrate its grand opening on December 2. And if the new Chandler location is a little out of the way, no worries, Campbell explains "the company plans to open at least two more locations in the Valley in the next year."
The cafe is currently open in its soft-opening phase, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Starting on December 2, the hours will expand to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.