A new wave of talent is steadily transforming Auckland’s Westmere shops. It began last year with restaurant Ragtag, then pasta deli Stracci in September – and now another well-known site will be reopening under fresh direction.
Ben Eyres and Sarah Tabak have taken over 160 Garnet Road, which was formerly Westmere Bakery. Its founders decided to hang up their apron strings this August after 32 years running one of Auckland’s classic bakeries.
Eyres previously managed pastry production at Daily Bread, having worked there for four years. Tabak describes herself as “a bit of a hospo lifer” – she followed her Bachelor of Science with post-grad oenology (the study of wine), then went on to work in winemaking. She started at Daily Bread doing deliveries during lockdown, then moved into the pastry kitchen. “She’s a weapon, one of the hardest-working people,” says Eyres.
Romance bloomed – “I found Ben and found baking,” says Tabak – and now the couple have decided to pool their talents for this new venture.
Beabea’s – named for Tabak’s beloved great-aunt – is scheduled to open mid-November.
It will be a classic Kiwi bakery “but elevated”, says Eyres. They’ll sell pastries, sourdough and pies, eventually expanding to sandwiches – but are keen to start small, for the time being.
Eyres has always wanted to have his own place and really liked the Westmere spot. So he pursued it enthusiastically when it became available. The lease was up and former owner Nang Ly was ready to retire, the couple says.
When Broadsheet visits, Beabea’s is still very much in the construction phase – but the spacious interior features white tiles covering nearly every inch of the walls and ceiling, showing some characterful wear from over the years (the building dates back to the 1930s and the couple says it was also formerly a butcher and fishmonger).
Navy-blue tiles make square designs on the walls and the space is full of equipment that Eyres and Tabak have amassed over the last few years – which is good forward planning, given that it takes a lot of gear to operate a commercial bakery.
They bought two pastry sheeters on Trade Me and picked them up from Fairlie in the South Island. Eyres also sourced a triple-decker oven from Fairlie Bakehouse three years ago, which had to be craned in through the window on Garnet Road. A few things have also been left by the previous tenants, including a bun divider and large mixer.
The couple want people walking in to feel like they’re in the middle of a working kitchen. “We’ve got my cousin making up a big, beautiful totara bench for us, which will be the centrepiece of the space,” says Tabak.
Eyres will be crafting treats here and Tabak will assist and run front-of-house. They’ll serve coffee by Atomic. It’ll all be takeaway at first, with outdoor tables to come.
Tabak’s great-aunt, whom the bakery was named for, was a key culinary influence on her – an inherited cookbook is Tabak’s prized possession. “There might be a few features from it on the menu,” she says. The branding even incorporates great-aunt Beabea’s handwriting in the two, curly capital Bs.
Eyres and Tabak intend to continue their predecessor’s legacy as a community bakery – and judging from the number of people poking their heads into the unfinished shop, it seems like the neighbourhood is excited to welcome them.
Beabea’s Bakery is scheduled to open mid-November at 160 Garnet Road, Westmere, Auckland.