A Friendship Circle volunteer at the Oct. 25 event.
A Friendship Circle volunteer at the Oct. 25 event. (Jen Lovy)

Friendship Circle holds open house to welcome customers back.

A steady stream of cars — 189 in the first hour alone — passed through the Boardwalk shopping center parking lot for a drive-through open house in celebration of Friendship Circle’s recent purchase of Dakota Bread Company. The organization recently purchased the bakery to train young adults with special needs by teaching life and job skills.

By the time the three-hour event ended, an estimated 1,200 people had attended the Oct. 25 celebration. While the West Bloomfield police and a handful of volunteers directed traffic, some attendees waited as long as 20 minutes to participate in the free event.

Cars lined up for the Oct. 25 event at Dakota Bread.
Cars lined up for the Oct. 25 event at Dakota Bread. Jenniv

After driving through a large arch of purple and white balloons, cars stopped at designated stations throughout the parking lot to receive various gifts, including challah dough to bake at home, craft projects, assorted beverages, and limited-edition Friendship Circle souvenirs. Of course, what bakery grand opening would not be complete without baked goods. Volunteers gave out muffins, sugar cookies, and chocolate babka.

Each box of challah dough came with instructions on braiding and baking challah at home. Participants could also participate in one of three live zoom challah baking classes with Chef Hunny Khodorkovsky.

Items on display at Dakota Bread.
Items on display at Dakota Bread. Jennifer Lovy | Detroit Jewish News

Cheryl Gastwirth of West Bloomfield, who volunteers at Friendship Circle’s Life Village, baked the challah dough she received when she got home. “It was doughy and delicious, a little bit sweet,” she said. “It tasted great — just like Dakota challah always does.”

Since the organization announced the acquisition of Dakota Bread, customers have had one recurring question, whether the challah recipe would change. Like a broken record, Friendship Circle co-founders Levi and Bassie Shemtov keep assuring those who ask that it will not change. All the ingredients, said Bassie Shemtov, happened to be kosher and will remain exactly the same. Notably, not one person asked if the price of challah would change.  It won’t.

Cheryl Gastwirth of West Bloomfield took a selfie with the Dakota Bread challah she baked at home.
Cheryl Gastwirth of West Bloomfield took a selfie with the Dakota Bread challah she baked at home. Cheryl Gastwirth

“It’s incredible to see so many people out here showing their support,” said Elliott Baum, a Friendship Circle board member and owner of Blue Ribbon Restaurants, a franchisee of Famous Dave’s. “We’re very excited about this new venture. In addition to providing training opportunities, we’re looking to double the wholesale and retail side of the business.”

Copyeditor David Sachs contributed to this report.

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