Kiwi Bakery is back -- with comfort foods from Down Under
Magna » Growing up in New Zealand, Don Oliphant ate meat pies for lunch at school every day. His parents treated the family to fish and chips each Friday because it was payday.
"It was part of your life," he said of New Zealand/Australian comfort foods.
Now, Oliphant is making meat pies and fish and chips from scratch at his Kiwi Bakery and take-out eatery on Main Street in Magna -- for the second time. His first bakery closed in 2003, but he reopened Nov. 12.
Oliphant knows it's a bit odd to have food and pastries in such a tiny venue -- there are only two small tables for waiting, so customers have to take their orders to go. But he "wanted to have a one-stop shop where you can get everything I miss."
The bakery is named after the kiwi, a flightless, chicken-size bird from New Zealand and the country's national symbol. Folks from New Zealand also are nicknamed "Kiwis," he said.
Customers who haven't lived Down Under enjoy the food anyway. Betsy Vakapuna, a West Valley City mom of seven, and her husband, Owen, recently visited the bakery after she heard it had reopened.
She loves the mushroom meat pie and picked up a New Zealand cream doughnut -- a large cream puff -- to try. Later that day, she returned for six more doughnuts.
"It's delicious," she said of the food. "It's fresh and homemade."
Peter and Brenda Wolfgramm last week made the 20-minute drive from West Jordan to Magna because they heard the fish-and-chips place was back. When she got her order, Brenda Wolfgramm tasted her fish and a potato wedge.
"It's the bomb," she said. "It's like right out of the lake."
Oliphant said he puts a lot of love into his baking, and he's excited about his second chance at his dream in Utah.
Oliphant was the eldest of his Scottish father's and Maori mother's six kids. He didn't want to go to college. After high school, he got an apprenticeship at a neighborhood bakery for five years in his hometown, Christchurch. He then moved around New Zealand working at various bakeries, eventually landing as a supervisor of some 20 people at a baking plant.
Oliphant, who was raised Mormon, moved to California 20 years ago, and later to Utah in 1997, to be closer to family who had moved to the U.S.
He opened Kiwi Bakery in Kearns in 1999 and later moved the shop to a former bakery in Magna. Oliphant and his ex-wife weren't able to make it work and fell behind on their bills. He shut the joint down in the summer of 2003.
"I was devastated," he said. "I had lost my dream. I had to walk away from it."
In 2004, Oliphant went to work for the US Magnesium foundry near Salt Lake City, but kept talking with co-workers about his former bakery. In March 2009, Oliphant said, he had some meetings with the Magna building's owners, who supported him reopening his bakery in the same spot.
It was a tough decision because many people questioned the idea: Why would he leave a good-paying job with benefits to chase a dream in a bad economy? But, he said, he had the support of his wife, Paige. Oliphant has six children -- ages 4 to 38.
Oliphant said business is going well and he hopes to open a few more locations within the next five years. He encourages others to follow their dreams. "If you have a love for something," he advises, "find a way to do it."
Comfort food from Down Under returns
Where » 8963 W. 2700 South, Magna
Contact » 801-250-9557 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours » 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday. 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
What to expect » New Zealand and Australian cuisine: meat pies, fish & chips, sausage rolls, cornish pasties and New Zealand cream donuts
Web site » www.kiwibakery.com