RAVENSWOOD MANOR — Dave and Megan Miller have spent the past year championing the use of whole grain flour at their Western Avenue Baker Miller Bakery & Millhouse.
Somehow, that emphasis on grain wound up pigeonholing the couple as "health food" bakers, a box they're breaking out of in a big way with their new Ravenswood Manor location, opening Saturday.
Meet the "Stuffle," a stuffed waffle that's the Millers' entry in the sweets-stakes spawned by Dominique Ansel's Cronut, and only available weekends in the Manor. It's so new, no samples were available when DNAinfo paid the Millers an impromptu visit.
Patty Wetli with the details behind the stuffed waffle:
Here's how Dave Miller describes it: Picture a sweet or savory filling — maybe cherries and cream cheese frosting or prosciutto and gruyere — sandwiched between puff pastry patties and then pressed in a waffle iron to flaky, buttery perfection.
That's the idea.
"Let's be decadent again" is the theme of the Millers' yet to be named outpost in the Manor, 4642 N. Francisco Ave.
During a recent trip to New York City, the husband-and-wife team were struck by the way their counterparts in the Big Apple take "this one thing they were really good at and celebrate it," be it pastrami sandwiches or Cronuts, Dave Miller said.
"Our cinnamon rolls, we never really celebrated them. People should line up for them," Miller said. "Our biscuits should be celebrated."
The craveability factor is something the Millers felt they were missing, hence the introduction of the Stuffle, which has re-energized staff.
"We thought, 'Let's come up with something like a Cronut that you've never had before,'" said Miller. "It's exciting. The minute we said, 'Stuffle,' [staff] started yelling out, 'What if we put this in it?' That hadn't happened before."
This burst of creativity has come in just the last week, and goes hand-in-hand with the Millers' about-face in terms of their plans for Ravenswood Manor, which now becomes Baker Miller's main production kitchen.
Originally conceived of by the couple as a general store, the focus for the location has since shifted to a to-go bakery/coffee shop aimed at serving the neighborhood's commuters on their way to and from the Francisco Brown Line station.
Part of the change in concept has to do with the rush in which the Millers came up with the notion of a general store in the first place.
"We just love the space. We used to come here when it was Merle's [coffee shop]," Miller said.
When he saw the property listed on Craigslist, he immediately phoned the owner, took a quick walkthrough and said, "We'll take it."
"We got the space and then it was like, 'Now what do we do?'" he said.
The couple initially balked at the idea of a cafe, out of deference to neighboring First Slice Pie Cafe, and hit upon the notion of a general store, which felt old school and "aesthetically cool," Miller said.
But the store never made sense from an economic standpoint, he said.
"I just can't compete with Mariano's and what I'm hearing is this neighborhood is price conscious," Miller said. "A grocery wouldn't work, and we needed a long-term plan. The only thing long term is the train — that's not going anywhere."
Miller is quick to point out that he envisions his operation complementing, not competing with neighboring First Slice, something the Millers have emphasized ever since announcing their Manor-based venture.
Baker Miller will open and close earlier in the day than First Slice and isn't set up to be the kind of place where people can hunker down with a computer for hours on end or catch up with a friend over lunch.
"We're really geared for people to come in, grab and leave," Miller said.
The menu, which the Millers are still in the process of writing, will skew heavily toward breakfast foods like portable versions of the oatmeal and grits served at the Western Avenue Baker Miller, as well as biscuit sandwiches.
Sparrow coffee has created a custom blend for the new location, one with black currant and dark chocolate notes that meets Miller's prerequisite of tasting great black for hurried commuters who don't have time to fiddle with adding cream or sugar.
Baker Miller's signature cinnamon rolls will also be available, with a twist: they'll be served upside-down so all the gooey deliciousness found on the bottom oozes back through the entire roll.
One thing customers won't find: pie, out of respect for First Slice.
The Stuffle is appearing solely on Saturdays and Sundays in part because the Millers think it has the potential to draw curious foodies from outside the Manor looking for the next new thing.
"Stuffles will help us on weekends when there are no commuters," Miller said. "But the best customer is going to be the one who walks by every day."
Baker Miller Ravenswood Manor will open at 7 a.m. Saturday.
Baker Miller's Ravenswood Manor location will be a to-go bakery and coffee shop, opening Saturday. [DNAinfo/Patty Wetli]
Baker Miller cinnamon rolls are getting a slight tweak — they'll be served upside-down. [Baker Miller]
Baker Miller has taken some height off its biscuits to make biscuit sandwiches more portable in the morning. [Baker Miller]
Sparrow Coffee created a custom blend for Baker Miller's Ravenswood Manor location. [Baker Miller]
Baker Miller's Ravenswood Manor kitchen features more space than the Western Avenue location, and will become the bakery's main production kitchen. [Baker Miller]
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