Bringing his bread-baking heritage from Poland, Krzysztof Ramostowski now provides some of the leading restaurants in the Lehigh Valley with exotic as well as simply wholesome loaves and rolls. With his wife Rosanna as his partner - and years of experience in upscale restaurants in New York and Boston as a base - Ramostowski recently opened up in downtown Allentown.
Krzysztof Ramostowski works round the clock to give us our daily bread. Together with his wife and business partner, Rosanna, these bakers provide an amazing variety of fabulous breads from semolina garlic rosemary loaves to onion rye mini rolls to more than 70 leading restaurants and country clubs around the Lehigh Valley.
In less than a year, their roster of clients reads like a culinary ''who's who,'' including such eateries as Apollo Grill, Appennino Ristorante, Edge, King George Inn, Mangos, Pistachio's, Radisson Hotel, Spice of Life and numerous other recognizable names. And they managed this feat in a world currently crazed with carb-counting.
Though his family had been in the bread-baking business in Poland for several generations, Ramostowski reports that he ''didn't want to be a baker when I was living in Poland. When I moved to New York in 1986, though, I wasn't finding other work, so I gave it a try.''
Landing a job at a well-known New York bakery, provided an outstanding opportunity to acquire New World techniques. ''I learned from some of the best bakers in the world they'd bring them in to teach us,'' Ramostowski says. ''I gained a lot of knowledge.''
He then obtained additional experience at other leading bakeries in New York, New Jersey and, eventually, Boston where he met his future wife, also a highly skilled baker who had emigrated from Poland. The couple was living in Edison, N.J., when they decided to find a new locale. ''I wanted a bakery that would be all my own. My wife and I decided to go to the closest state without a good baker,'' Ramostowski explains.
Ramostowski continued to commute to a job at Hudson Bread in New York for a year and a half while he and Rosanna prepared their new operation for business. ''When we moved here, we went from having a lot to having nothing it was challenging. But it's quiet in the Lehigh Valley and a good place to raise a family,'' says Ramostowski, the father of three-year-old son Michael.
The family moved into a home across the street from the bakery. ''We had no choice. There was no time to commute, because we work 24-hours. And we'll soon be even closer to the business: We're making a loft apartment above the store,'' Ramostowski explains.
''It was difficult at first, because we had to do everything the baking, getting new accounts, managing the store ourselves,'' he continues. ''Now there's a crew that we trained it was difficult finding people so that's better.''
As Unique Bread Bakery's commercial accounts expanded, the focus quickly shifted from retail to wholesale. ''At first I called on restaurants,'' says Ramostowski. ''Now new accounts come to us. People are in line waiting to be served.'' In fact, additional equipment is being installed to ensure that production can keep up with demand.
To streamline their efforts and make better use of their time, the Ramostowskis partnered with Planet Hoagie, a sandwich shop that now occupies the storefront. An alcove in the shop is stocked with fresh Unique Bread Bakery loaves and rolls, and the comforting fragrance of warm bread scents the air.
''Our breads are used in their sandwiches and they also take care of our retail sales,'' Ramostowski says. ''People were disappointed that Rosanna was not working in the store any more. Our customers would love to talk to her, but Rosanna is good at every part of the business, from marketing to baking.''
The Ramostowskis are constantly experimenting and creating new products. There are well over 100 variations of nearly two-dozen types of bread products on their list of standards which is supplemented by seasonal specials, such as their superb stollen, dense, yeasty and studded with dried fruit.
''Rosanna and I also try to develop something special for each new place we serve,'' Ramostowski says. ''We don't want to be like anybody else. All our breads are different they're made our way.''
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