Stacy Fox at Star Bakery
Stacy Fox at Star Bakery. (Glenn Triest)

A tasty new chapter for Fox opened last year when she became the president and managing partner at two venerable bakeries, best known as Star Bakery in Oak Park and Diamond Bakery in West Bloomfield.

“You’re always warm and never hungry if you work for a bakery,” said Stacy Fox, a hometown gal with a thing for old bakeries — old Jewish bakeries in particular. 

Fox was 16 when she began working with Marty and Joyce Herman at Marty’s Cookies & Bakery in Birmingham, a business known for its definitive chocolate chip cookies. At age 24, she purchased the bakery and kept it for 20 years.

A tasty new chapter for Fox opened last year when she became the president and managing partner at two venerable bakeries, best known as Star Bakery in Oak Park and Diamond Bakery in West Bloomfield.

Raised with two sisters in Oak Park by their parents, Saul and Shirley Arsht, Fox didn’t hesitate to walk from home on Colleen Street to buy Star Bakery cookies. Many moons later, another young customer stopping by on a weekday was River Morack, 4, of Huntington Woods. Her mom, Madeline, said River had asked her to “get me a treat at Star Bakery.” 

Stacy Fox
Stacy Fox Occupation: President/managing partner of Star Bakery and Diamond Bakery
Education: Graduate of Berkley High School and Michigan State University
Family: Husband, Michael Fox, owner of Fox Printing Service, and children Izzy Fox, 19; Elijah, 17; and Goldie, 14, all fourth-generation Tamarack campers and active in B’nai B’rith Youth Organization
Affiliation: Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills
Volunteerism: Member of Bloomfield Hills High School Executive Board, recent board member of Tamarack Camps Glenn Triest
Keeping Bakeries Alive

What is it about a bakery? 

“Bakeries connect the generations. It’s a business that makes people happy,” said Fox, 53, of Bloomfield Hills. “But it’s become so unusual to see a neighborhood bakery anymore.” 

If Fox and her two partners, Oakland County businessmen Dan Buckfire and David Schechter, hadn’t seized separate opportunities to purchase Star and Diamond in 2021, “I believe the bakeries might have gone away,” she said.

The partners acquired Star Bakery on July 24 from Esther Moskowitz. She had run Star since her father Ben Moskowitz took ill six years ago. “After Ben passed away in April, Esther was ready to do something else,” Fox said. Noting that Ben Moskowitz’s sister, Fanny Herman, was the mother of Marty “Marty’s Cookies” Herman, Fox said, “It seemed like a natural fit to come into Marty’s uncle’s place.” 

Owner Gina Rowley sold Diamond Bakery to them just before Thanksgiving. “She was ready to retire,” Fox said. The bakery is located in the West Bloomfield Shopping Mall on Orchard Lake Road. “Diamond caters to Jewish customers,” Fox said, “but it’s not been a Jewish-owned business for more than 40 years. We want to take it back to offering our own authentic Jewish recipes,” such as the mandelbread and rugelach recipes that came from each of her husband Michael’s grandmothers.

Stacy Fox, Marilyn Wolton and the baking crew.
Stacy Fox, Marilyn Wolton and the baking crew. Glenn Triest
Loyalty to Tradition

Fox is respectful of her clientele preferences for particular bakery specialties. Speaking of Star Bakery, she said, “People come from all over for our seven-layer cake,” but she’s also found great loyalty to Diamond Bakery’s recipe for seven-layer cake. 

“We’re famous for our rye bread,” she said, again referring to Star Bakery. For the time being, Star is making all the rye bread sold at Diamond Bakery and teaching bakers there to make it the same way. The rye is popular for sandwiches served at many local delis.

Star’s rye bread starter, also known as “mother dough,” is more than 40 years old, according to Fox, and must be tended to daily. Additionally, “our sourdough bread is outstanding,” she said. “It’s made using a tangy dough with a starter close to 20 years old.”

Fox also praised their onion and apple challah breads. For fun, “one of our bakers came up with the ‘Football Pump,’ a whole pumpernickel loaf in the shape of a football, complete with laces.” For a savory breakfast, Fox recommended topping an Onion Pletzel, an oval flatbread made from challah, with shakshuka, the poached egg-tomato dish often associated with Israeli cuisine.

“We can be traditional and modern at the same time,” Fox said of her bakeries. “Everything may not stay the same, but it will stay delicious.”

Stacy Fox, River Morack, 4, of Huntington Woods, and her mom, Madeline
Stacy Fox, River Morack, 4, of Huntington Woods, and her mom, Madeline Glenn Triest
A Twist of Modern

Star and Diamond will use high-end, scratch recipes that sometimes incorporate a contemporary twist. Fox decided: Why not make Post Fruity Pebbles cereal-flavored kichel for the kids? And, sure, the bakeries’ hamantash cookies at Purim will have traditional fillings like apricot and prune, but maybe check out the new options of key lime or Nutella, a chocolate-hazelnut spread. 

Sephardic recipes, such as for tahini cookies and desserts with dates, are part of what she wants to add to the menu. 

“We want to be all-inclusive bakeries,” so that means also giving customers Mexican and Peruvian-style cookies and Alfajoreses, a classic South American rolled cookie Fox was surprised to find at an Israeli bakery. Alfajoreses features layers of creamy dulce de leche spread between two thin shortbread cookies, the edges rolled in powdered sugar. 

Many of the additional menu items that intrigue Fox — “I would love to make my mother’s apple kugel. I want to add hot soup” — will have to wait until she can hire more help, particularly bakers. Star Bakery currently has 20 employees ranging from high school age to senior citizens, Around 10 work at Diamond Bakery.

“We hire employees for their attitude, then we’ll train them,” she said. At work daily, Fox takes pride in personally preparing the dough used for rugelach, mandelbread and more. When her bakers arrive at 4 a.m., the baked goods they make will include babkas, turnovers and cookies, including Marty’s-style chocolate chip. Bakers on the 4 p.m. shift produce bread only.

Operations and the décor are more in hand at Star Bakery, which Fox has managed since summer. A “Breakfast Special” at Star is $3.99 for a cup of Great Lakes Coffee Co. coffee with a Danish-style pastry. “We also want to have thick slices of challah toast smeared with butter and cinnamon sugar,” she said.

Below the front windows at Star is a long, weathered wood pew that came from an old synagogue in Detroit. Fox plans to put up pictures of old Jewish bakeries and vintage baking utensils. The most notable change in the bakery is a menu mural on the black-painted back wall. Designer Izzy Fox, a creative advertising major at Michigan State University (her parents’ alma mater), beautifully hand-painted the colorful words. She will be repeating the project this spring at Diamond Bakery. As Stacy Fox updates the décor at Diamond, to “shlep it into the 21st century,” she expressed appreciation for the efforts of Michael, her “Jewish husband with a toolbelt. He can fix anything.” 

All-Star Marilyn Wolton

Stacy Fox relies on her longtime employee Marilyn Wolton of Oak Park, associated with Star Bakery since 1960. The only child of Polish Holocaust survivors Joyce and Henry “Chaim” Abramowitz, Wolton was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany. She remembered when her father, owner of a shoe repair shop on Coolidge, told 14-year-old Marilyn to “find a job, but you’re not working for me.” Down the street, former Star Bakery owner Gene Klein hired her, and “two years later, I was the bookkeeper.”

Marilyn Wolton
Marilyn Wolton

Wolton worked less at the bakery while raising her children, Rodney and Nicole, with husband, Ron “The Banker” Wolton. She returned to full-time employment when Nicole entered sixth grade. The new job title was “trouble shooter,” requiring Wolton to train sales workers at Star’s former chain of four bakeries.

Now serving customers behind the counter, Wolton said she’s pleased to see Fox’s innovations after so many years of “nothing changing” under previous owners. Wolton assists with Star Bakery’s new rewards program that lets interested customers accumulate points from their purchases toward a future discount.

A Little Bakery History

“Star Bakery Shop” was founded in Detroit in 1915 in a neighborhood that became known in the 1920s as Black Bottom. Ten years later, in 1925, an ad placed in the Detroit Jewish Chronicle newspaper announced the grand opening of Star Bakery Shop proprietors Harry Felsot and I. Penn’s “new sanitary bake shop.” The address was 12028 Dexter Boulevard, between Elmhurst and Monterrey. The ad touted the quality of bakery specialties, including cornbread, cheesecake, crescents, jelly rolls, “baigle,” pumpernickel, “Sabbath bread” and more.

Sanitary Bake Shop
From 1927 William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History

Star Bakery moved in 1954 to its storefront today on Coolidge Highway, two blocks north of Lincoln Street. Between 1968-1970, Jack Moskowitz acquired the bakery, then sold it to his brother Ben. Under Ben, a different business, Fabulous Star Bakery in Southfield’s New Orleans Mall, became another Star Bakery. In addition to that Greenfield and 10 Mile location and the current store, Star Bakery at its peak also included locations at Nine Mile and Coolidge in Oak Park and Northwestern Highway, north of 12 Mile, in Southfield.

Baker Edward and wife Mersha “Mitzi” Seid sold their Jewel Bakery in Southfield’s Harvard Row Shopping Mall in the mid-1970s and opened Diamond Bakery at the former Shopping Center Market inside just-opened Orchard Mall in West Bloomfield. Seid and two associates also operated a Diamond Bakery, the only one remaining, at its current West Bloomfield location next to Pickles & Rye Deli. The bakery was sold in 1981, according to Ed’s widow, Mitzi Seid, 88, of Las Vegas. Fox said members of a Polish family were the buyers. Gina Rowley from the family was the most recent owner of Diamond Bakery, prior to Fox and her partners. Rowley purchased it three years earlier from her brother, Kenny.

Star Bakery
26031 Coolidge Highway
Oak Park, MI 48237
Phone: (248) 541-9450
www.thestarbakery.com
Hours: 6 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays; 6 a.m.-3 p.m. weekends
Diamond Bakery
6722 Orchard Lake Road
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Phone: (248) 626-2212
www.diamondbakery.net
Hours: 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday

 

Previous articleLearn How to Navigate Michigan’s Mental Health Care System Through Free Mind Matters Webinar
Next articleWhy I Wrote a Jewish Book about Kidney Donation