Christina Tosi is excited. And why shouldn’t she be? Last week, Tosi announced that Milk Bar, the company she founded (originally as part of David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant group), that would become a phenomenon in the baking world, received the first round of funding it needs to expand across America.
“It will be nine years tomorrow that I opened the doors of Milk Bar and I certainly had a plan, but not this kind of plan…It’s been an incredible challenge,” Tosi said over the phone from Las Vegas.
She was there to speak on a restaurant panel and to visit the city’s Milk Bar location. She planned to work a shift at the front counter, too, a role she doesn’t get to take on very much anymore.
“It can be heartbreaking,” she says, of no longer working in the day-to-day operations of the bakery she created. “All I want to do is bake the cakes. [The employees say], ‘You can help me but I’m pro at it because you raised me to be a pro, Mom!’” Instead of taking over the kitchen, like she might be tempted to do, Tosi says, “I hang out with them and bring them pizza and eat ice cream and chat.”
Don’t be fooled by Tosi relaxed attitude—she understands the gravity of the choice to expand Milk Bar. Once known as the hole-in-the-wall bakery on 13th street in Manhattan that served near-supernaturally delicious cookies, Tosi is now creating an empire—and with that power, comes great responsibility.
“I am now responsible for 250 people and their livelihoods. We have a lot to lose,” she says. “This is really a big decision that I made for our entire team, to give us a little bit of the space to say, what would we dare to dream if our only limit was the dream? What would we do?”
To start making that dream a reality, Milk Bar will open another location in Washington D.C. by the end of the year in District Wharf. A third D.C. location will open in 2018, on Church Street and 15th, in an old auto body shop. Milk Bar will also be making its debut in Los Angeles next year. Tosi also plans to offer more baking classes at the Los Angeles location.