Efe Topuzlu and Ozgur Sefkatli, the owners of Middle Eastern restaurant Above Par, have expanded their offerings with an authentic, Turkish bakery. Topuzlu and Sefkatli are both from Istanbul, Turkey, but met in Australia about 10 years ago.
"We were both in hospitality working for other venues and dreaming of opening our very own venture one day, which finally happened two years ago when we opened Above Par Sydney."
Malika Bakehouse takes a modern approach to old-school Turkish baking, reinventing the rich cultural cuisine on a shiny new plate.
"Turkish food has a lot to offer with a thousand years of history, so it's not just kebabs and dips. To us, most Turkish restaurants look out of fashion, with not much branding or representation.
"There are no other modern Turkish bakeries in Sydney, so we decided to open our own."
Topuzlu designed the menu, while Sefkatli looks after the front of house. The two said their most popular items include Menemen (Turkish Chili Scrambled Eggs) and homemade Borek ( a savoury roll with different fillings like Feta & Spinach or Sucuk – Turkish Sausage with Cheese & Harissa).
COVID has caused many casualties in the hospitality industry so, opening a new store is a tremendous feat.
"We observed the market, checking out different suburbs and evaluating the growth of local businesses.
"We priced items so they won't break the bank, with most people sitting at home and earning less.
"Offering really good coffee with a great pastry and savoury range in a clean setting with a smile - we believe you can't go wrong so we actually weren't scared to step into this venue."
Malika Bakehouse is in Botany, Sydney. Botany is a densely populated area, close to both an airport and beaches.
"We're located on the main road so there's lots of traffic which is great exposure.
"The main reason we chose this site though is that there isn't really anywhere you can sit down and enjoy a coffee or meal, and we thought we could create something unique people would come back for."
Above Par opened at the very beginning of lockdown in Sydney. Operating a new store during the pandemic gave Topuzlu and Sefkatli the ability to adapt to and adopt the 'new normal.'
"We were already pretty experienced while we were planning Malika Bakehouse.
"The only concern was keeping our staff happy but we were lucky enough to stay as a family and keep them all on board."
Small businesses like Malika Bakehouse need support from the community in order to survive.
"As long as you are committed and offer a nice product with good service, people will see what you are doing and be supportive. We're lucky because Sydney people are super supportive during hard times."
Topuzlu and Sefkatli hope to expand Malika Bakehouse throughout Australia.
"A friendly bakery that offers unique, authentic Turkish pastries with top-notch coffee is not something you can get everywhere.
"We'll start with Sydney but our aim is to go beyond."