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On a roll: Fort Lauderdale bakery sees customer surge after making Yelp's U.S. top three

Gerard Albert III
The exterior of Archibald's Village Bakery.

The line outside of Archibald's Village Bakery is creeping out the door on a breezy Sunday morning during spring break on Fort Lauderdale Beach.

The owners can thank the restaurant-rating app Yelpfor the crush of new customers. The bakery has more than 165 five-star reviews on popular app.

This year, the bakery ranked number three on the app’s list of 100 best restaurants in the country.

"I've tried several of their pastries and they always hit. The morning glory loaf and cinnamon roll are my personal favs,” wrote Brittany from Fort Lauderdale in her Yelp review.

“Loved this place. The people, the food, the atmosphere. From the moment you walk through the door they are friendly and beyond that the food is amazing. Will definitely be back,” wrote Jess, who lives in Florida.

And Ariel from Coconut Creek loved the “laid back beach vibe of this quaint bakery. Both the food and company were stellar.”

The quality of the food and company at Archibald’s are something Justin and Chris work hard to facilitate. While Justin Mathys-Archibald runs the kitchen, his husband and co-owner, Chris, spends most of his time working the front of the shop.

“I used to be a performer, which is why they've got me at the front of the store because you can't shut me up. And I think the whole world is a stage,“ Chris jokes on a sunny afternoon seated on the patio of the bakery with Justin.

The pair rarely cross paths during the work day.

“I really wanted to focus on being the chef. And with him being a performer and working in sales, it was just perfect for him to really be the face of the company and to give people the experience that they come here for,“ Justin said.

“And my husband does think I am a constant pleasure to be around, so he could never possibly enjoy being around me,” Chris snapped back stirring laughter from the couple.

Chris (left) and Justin Mathys-Archibald at their bakery.
Chris and Justin Mathys-Archibald
Chris (left) and Justin Mathys-Archibald at their bakery.

After the bakery was ranked third on Yelp's list of Top 100 places to eat in the country, customers started forming lines around the block. Weekends were especially busy.

Terri Cole got lucky on a recent Sunday morning during spring break, landing a coveted shady seat in the busy courtyard. She lives nearby and only started visiting the bakery with friends after seeing it on Yelp.

“It’s a great little place to stop on our Sunday morning walks. We love the courtyard — the breeze is really nice here. You can avoid the sun a little bit. It's great," she said.

"The bakery is wonderful. All of the pastries, they're just amazing. The owners, the clerks helping you, are fun they've got all these funny little lines so they’re entertaining it's fun to see them."

The bakery is squeezed between midcentury modern hotels a block from Fort Lauderdale Beach. The outside patio is full of subtropical flora, with ivy climbing the walls. Inside, the space is cozy, with tons of natural light.

Before the overnight Yelp fame, prep work in the kitchen started at 3 in the morning. And with the recent spike in customers, the owners have had to figure out something new.

“Because of the outpouring of support that we've received from everybody, I've been coming at 8 p.m., working through the night and then helping out where I can,”  Justin said. “We probably have been putting out about — I would say — triple what we usually do just to try and keep up with what's happened.”

Justin’s kitchen is a small room in the back of a hotel a block away from the bakery.

He starts off by prepping one of the bakery’s top sellers — the morning glory loaf. It’s a traditional recipe — a mix of carrots, pineapples, nuts, and apples.

Justin mixes the dough in a 20-quart commercial mixer. To make all 12 loaves for the next morning he mixes two separate bowls.

“When we first bought this mixer, I knew at some point that we would outgrow it. I just didn't realize that we were going to outgrow it so quickly," he said.

Justin — who hails from a small town in Ohio — was handed down recipes from his mother, who learned them from her mother.

“One thing that she always loved to do was feed people. If you came over to our house. ‘Let me get you sat down. Let me get you something to drink. Can I get you something to eat?’ ” Justin remembers.

Justin is usually in the kitchen until midnight assembling the pastries for the morning crew who arrive around 3 am.

It’s a small space with a recently installed air conditioning unit. Justin enjoys the solitude — working alone in the kitchen is something that drew him to baking in the first place.

“And it's actually one thing that, as we've continued to grow and get busier, that has been something that I've really missed," he said. "I get in here and it's kind of just like my Zen place.” 

Justin Mathys prepares pastries during an overnight shift.
Gerard Albert III
Justin Mathys prepares pastries during an overnight shift.

As the bakery continues to adjust to the influx of new customers, Chris and Justin hope to expand their kitchen and open a second location in the Victoria Park neighborhood.

The couple wants to stay true to their small roots.

“I really want to make sure that our our products are made by people that love to do it," said Justin. "People that have the knowledge for it and the people that are willing to take the time to make it right.”

Gerard Albert III covers Broward County. He is a former WLRN intern who graduated from Florida International University. He can be reached atgalbert@wlrnnews.org
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