The Yams Arrive
They're opening a bakery at Packard and Platt.
From the June, 2019 issue
"I've been wanting to come to Ann Arbor a long time," says Kim Yam. She and her husband, Saing Yam, opened DJ's Bakery at the corner of Packard and Platt in April. Yam says her husband is the baker, while she handles the service and logistical parts of the business. The name combines the initials of their two adult sons, Dennis and Jason, who help out at the bakery. When the couple retires, Yam says, "both of them can take over if they would like to!"
The Yams immigrated to the United States with Saing's family in 1979 after fleeing Cambodia during the Cambodian-Vietnamese War. "It's been wonderful," she says of their forty years in the U.S. "It's funny, we thought we'd just come here to work for food. We didn't speak any English, we had to learn it all."
Saing learned how to make donuts at a shop in San Diego, but he learned the traditional German recipes he uses now when the couple moved to Michigan in 1993 and took over the now-hundred-year-old Dexter Bakery. They left that in 2008 to found both the Pinckney Bakery and Chelsea Bakery. They sold the latter to Saing's niece and nephew last year.
DJ's offers a classic pastry selection of donuts, eclairs, and cinnamon rolls; plus pretzels and bagels, and German specialties like the folded, jam-filled kolache cookies.
The interior is all new. Yam says they had to gut the place, a former laundromat, to build their kitchen and dining area. "We thought it was going to be three or four months," she says. "It took a whole year."
The design is homey-modern: light gray walls and floor tiles, gray benches, and black Eames-style stools warmed up with rustic accents like a wildflower wreath and a wooden "thankful" sign over the counter. The bright acrylic painting of pastries was commissioned by Yam from one of their former Chelsea employees, Lindsey Dahl. "She's a marvelous painter," says Yam. "I told
her, 'Do whatever you want!'"
A few days after opening, Yam couldn't stop beaming about their warm welcome from Ann Arbor's southeast side. "Some of them I've seen two or three times in two days. I think the barbershop came in twice yesterday!"
"I think we're gonna be the neighborhood bakery," she says. "It feels good to be wanted ... We will try to do our best and make them proud."
DJ's Bakery, 3031 Packard. (734) 369-2068. Mon.-Sat. 5 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 5 a.m.-2 p.m. facebook.com
[Originally published in June, 2019.]
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