August 9, 2016 | By matt | Comments
I suppose, in the end, it was always about Japan. It had to be. It wasn’t obvious, of course. This is the kind of thing that sneaks up on you. This is the kind of thing that rattles around your subconscious—a slight pinging of the brain. Like sonar. Then it surfaces, seeking oxygen, and unexpectedly—12-plus years later—it all (almost) makes sense. This is what is was all about. All the debris and cloudy judgments and long days and vacations cut short and sleepless nights and false alarms and brittle relationships fade away (at the very least, they recede temporarily). And suddenly, like a mirage in the desert, Baked is opening in Tokyo.
We (Renato/myself) didn’t plot this. Not overtly. How could we? When we opened our first store in 2005 in Red Hook, Brooklyn, we were just looking to cover overhead, pay ourselves on occasion (a very rare occurrence back then), not kill each other (few near misses, but we are both still standing), and figure out how to scale our business (oh, the importance of scale on so many levels eluded us for a bit). However, if you dig deep, there were signposts. Some obvious. Renato’s prior company was a design firm called Big in Japan (no relation to the current URL in use). The world is telling you something, the world is telling you something, the world is telling you something.
And, oddly, some of our more interesting and earliest press came from Japanese publications and TV Shows. Also, I have always had a thing for KitKats (and Japan really has a thing for them). But it is a long, bumpy, grimy, pockmarked New York City road from “liking KitKats” to opening a store in the center of Tokyo in one of the most prestigious locations in that country. (By the by, we are opening in Isetan’s famous food hall and will be elbow to elbow with some of our heroes like JeanPaul Hévin and Pierre Hermé and, oh, yeah…full press release here : most likely translated – poorly – via your browser).
I will spare you the details. There are 12-plus years of details and while there are many triumphs, there are some details that are too painful or too boring to recount here. But here is what you need to know: We opened our first store 12 years ago. We opened our second (really our second-and-a-half…but long story) about one and a half years ago in Tribeca. And our third store is opening in Japan on August 24th. We are overjoyed to be opening in Tokyo. If Baked has a lifespan, perhaps this is the midway point. The Tokyo opening represents coming “half-circle” not only by opening half-way around the world, but it also represents us, the owners. This is where we are now: approaching middle age with our baby.
As mentioned, Japan was most likely fated. Renato, self-diagnosed with mild OCD, is in awe of the cleanest country in the world. There is a beauty and comfort with which the citizens inherently care for their surroundings here. It has to be seen and experienced. The energy is ebullient. I have always been drawn to 24/7 cities (I do live in New York and I fancy Las Vegas), and there is a buzz in Tokyo that is fresh and pleasant and doesn’t really exist in other like-minded hubs. The fashion and food are, of course, on point. The odd curiosities (the Owl bars, the Robot Restaurant thing) are well, wonderful odd curiosities. And this is the country that reinvented a toaster. I fucking love toast.
So, if you happen to be visiting Tokyo after August 24th please visit our mini-Baked in Isetan. We are very proud of it. Let us know if you check out our new outpost: Send us a message, tag us in a photo (#BakedTokyo), tell us your dreams.