Tasty treats
Mila’s European Bakery re-opens storefront

By Kenneth Anderson - News Graphic Correspondent

June 13, 2017

Anna Bakalinsky, owner of Mila’s European Bakery in Thiensville, makes an appearance on Milwaukee television recently to speak about the re-opening of a storefront for the longtime bakery.
Submitted photo

THIENSVILLE — Mila Kofman and her husband immigrated to America in 1979 with two children and $500 in their pockets. With a degree in food technology and a strong passion for baking, she opened her small retail bakery just two years after her arrival.

Now run by her daughter, Anna Bakalinsky, Mila’s has made some big changes in an effort to remain a part of their cherished community, but Mila’s legacy remains.

“I remember helping her at work when I was just a little girl, and my dad peddling the baked goods to local stores,” said Mila’s daughter. For Bakalinsky, after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the natural progression led her back to her family’s bakery. With Bakalinsky at the forefront, the family-owned business means to grow and rejoin the lives of its customers.

At 239 N. Main St. in Thiensville, there sits the newly opened storefront of Mila’s European Bakery. Monday through Saturday, from 6 a.m to 6 p.m., everything from coffee cakes to almond horns sit behind the bakery window. Bakalinsky, along with her 15 employees, makes sure to keep that window stocked and inviting.

Started in 1981, Mila’s has been providing baked goods in the surrounding area for decades. Today, you can find grocery stores in Milwaukee, Madison and some cities in Illinois that carry Mila’s products. Yet, for the family-run business, it wasn’t enough.

A variety of items are displayed on shelves to tempt customers who visit the recently re-opened storefront bakery in downtown Thiensville.
Submitted photo

On March 31, Bakalinsky and her family officially re-opened Mila’s storefront with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Large scissors and all, Bakalinsky made a splash back into the community. A storefront bakery previously occupied space in the same shopping center. It closed years ago as Mila’s focused on wholesale operations.

When asked the reason as to why Mila’s had decided to re-open the storefront, Bakalinsky recounted how customers would stop her in public, asking if the conventional, stop-in bakery would ever return.

“That’s when I realized that the community had really embraced Mila’s,” said Bakalinsky. “They brought us into their homes and made us part of their traditions, and it really touched my heart.”

Seeing a desire from her community, Bakalinsky has not stopped at simply having a store for Mila’s baked goods.

“When a customer comes in, we don’t just say, ‘What can I help you with?’ We strike up a conversation,” she said. “We really pay attention to what their needs are.”

However, the passion and dedication to their community does come with its own obstacles. Smaller bakeries constantly have to deal with the looming threat of larger ones. In addition, health trends present their own set of unique challenges. Bakalinsky explained.

“We have to keep up with healthier alternatives.” That’s where the paleo and flour-free choices come in.

It is this ability to adapt that remains essential to Mila’s owner.

“It’s important to change with the times. It’s a lot of hard work, determination, courage, and a good mind-set to grow,” Bakalinsky said.

So with Mila’s storefront on the rise, “changing with the times” seems to be a trend that the Mila’s family has no intention of ending any time soon.