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If you’ve ever traveled to the Bronx, Brooklyn, or the Big Apple, then you know those places are famous for traditional foods that are forever embedded in food history. If you miss – or have always wanted to try – traditional New York baked goods, come to Centerton and visit Challalujah Bakery for a little bit of NYC in NWA.
In February 2020, Challalujah Bakery opened a unique-to-Arkansas bakery in downtown Centerton. On their Grand Opening Day, they were sold out within two hours.
When you consider the timing of 2020 to launch a bakery, it is a miracle they were able to grow a wildly successful business with a loyal customer base.
So how does an architect end up as a baker? It starts with a memory, a need, and a purpose.
Paul Flashnick grew up in the Bronx. His uncle would take him to all the best Brooklyn and Bronx spots and introduce him to bagels, traditional Black and White cookies, Bobka sweet-braided bread, savory New York Rye, softly sweet Pumpernickel, and freshly baked Challah bread. He grew up tasting the best of the best.
When he moved to Northwest Arkansas twenty years ago, he was frustrated. He couldn’t find any of the bakery items that he so dearly remembered.
Paul kept challenging his wife Sue to bake the bread from his youth. It was their second marriage and Paul was impressed with her baking skills as she baked for her kids. The kicker was that Paul didn’t just crave the bread from his childhood; he also wanted them to be non-GMO without any “junk” ingredients. It didn’t take long for Sue to nail it.
“It’s like the Black and White cookie. You can’t find it. My wife 100% nailed it, totally. We sell out on those things. People from New York and California find out about it and we sell out.”
Paul and Sue decided to take advantage of the Arkansas cottage industry and began selling their NYC-inspired baked goods at the Bentonville Farmer’s Market in 2018 and at the Rogers Farmer’s Market in 2019.
They knew retirement was getting close and it was time to move their dream forward. So, they found an available vacant 1860s building in downtown Centerton and began finishing it out in the fall of 2019.
Rent was the first hurdle they crossed as their generous landlord worked out a backward rent offer, which allowed them to catch up as they progressed.
Then, an unforeseen costly fire requirement almost stopped everything in its track. They learned they needed to install a large hood vent, but doing so was going to put them over their budget.
They were within fifteen minutes of throwing in the towel.
Paul put on his architect hat and miraculously figured out a way to meet the requirement with a smaller size hood! This fix moved them forward and nothing – not even a pandemic – would stop them now.
The idea for Challalujah Bakery started with a memory, a need, and a purpose. We talked earlier about the first two reasons, so now let’s learn about their purpose, from Paul:
“The three most important things: God is #1, the family is #2, and #3 is the rest of how you present yourself in your life and job. As long as you kind of understand that, you’re good. He’s always put me in strange positions and it’s always worked itself out. You would be amazed at some of the testimony on the floor of the shop.
For example, a father came in recently with his wife and son. As the boy pointed to our Israel Star of David flag, the father went through the meaning. It floored me. They had just been going through the Bible and he explained it. That for me was all the work we put in, that was it. People just come, stand here and visit and share how they came to Jesus. It’s kind of what our mission is through the bakery. That’s why we don’t worry about the marketing. He will provide. For the rest, we won’t worry about it.
We are like missionaries here, doing the work through God’s work on the floor, and through nutrition because of what people have never tasted before. We do it all for God.”
In case you wondered, that is precisely the reasoning behind the bakery’s name with a play on words: Challah (pronounced “hall-uh) + hallelujah (praise to God) = Challalujah.
There are three things that Challalujah Bakery is known for: (1) they’re a Jewish bakery (Messianic), (2) their mostly organic, and (3) they have an extensive Keto offering.
Some of the other traditional baked goods they provide are rye bread, marble rye bread, pumpernickel bread, five-ingredient vegan sourdough bread, cinnamon rolls, Kyya-chocolate Bobkas, cookies, muffins, brownies, cupcakes, mini loafs, hamburger buns, and of course, Challah breads of a myriad of flavors.
They’re also famous for their Hot-Out-Of-Oven Challah Cinnamon Rolls every weekend from 7:30am until 11:00am. Customers design their own with their choice of four topping flavors and amounts, ranging from light to medium or insane.
Almost three out of four customers are first timers to Challalujah Bakery. Word of mouth is growing like wildfire and their numbers are going through the roof.
“We love the community and they love us. They’ve adopted us. We’re not in it for the money. We’re in it for Him and being able to help people. We love it and we put in all the long hours. We’re not leaving Centerton, ever. We’re just not.”
Jeremy Kline, a close friend, once took Paul to the downtown Bentonville Squirrel Festival. As the two of them experienced the festivities, Paul thought, “Why not do something with the squirrel? To look at him, He’s praising God and manna from heaven!”
So yeah, the squirrel is prominent. He greets you from the door to the walls to the ceiling and yes, to even cookies and merchandise shaped as the squirrel. The whole thing is designed so that you can come through the door… and smile.
Next time your travels take you to Northwest Arkansas, put this Centerton bakery on your to-do list. I recommend that you make it a frequent visit since Paul, Sue, and his family have plans in the works to bring in good coffee, sandwiches, breakfast, outdoor seating, and a teaching-kids-to-bake element.
It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly is the best part of Challalujah Bakery. Besides the obviously delicious baked goods, I believe that the fact that you can talk to the owners and experience their passion as they explain things to you… it’s more than the smells, the nod to NYC… it’s the whole package.
Why? They’re here for the long term. It’s a family business with dreams of generations to come.
271 N. Main Street,
Centerton, Arkansas 72719
HOURS: 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday
Selections also available at Akin’s Natural Foods in Rogers
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