Like all great entrepreneurs, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito bit off more than they could chew (pun mostly not intended). They pursued their dream at all costs while ignoring simple realities like financing (or lack thereof), New York City food service and zoning applications (there are many and they are lengthy), and a business plan (we couldn't get beyond the first sentence "Open a great American bakery that is not a cupcake shop").
Regardless, Matt and Renato trudged forth with a small, enthusiastic team, a few tattered recipes, a dwindling bank account, and endless dreams of cake and coffee. Thankfully, their wild-eyed ambition (or naïveté) won out: Baked was finally born in January 2005 in the neighborly neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn.
ABOUT THE BAKED FOUNDERS
Matt and Renato really, really like dessert. Perhaps, a little too much.
They tend to think of themselves as dessert archeologists - digging and researching and eating their way through the regional desserts of America. They spend a disproportionate amount of their vacation time in bakeries, chocolate shops, coffee houses, and used book stores and they spend almost all of their discretionary income on cake and coffee and cookies and wine.
Prior to pursuing their professional dreams of baking and caffeine, they were baking and culinary hobbyists. Renato watched and learned from his mother and Matt was guided by his grandmother, a few night classes, and his mom's deep love of a good cake mix.
Matt and Renato spent much of their youth (or what was left of it) in the world of advertising. Matt, a producer, spent his days in a lifeless cubicle stuffed with spreadsheets and post-its, while Renato spent his time in the more rarefied field of graphic design (i.e. making things look beautiful so people would buy them). Their lives overlapped at a glitzy ad agency (where they labored on non-glitzy accounts) and the germ of the idea that would become Baked formed.