Madruga Bakery to Bring Country Loaves, Croissants, and Maybe Bagels to Coral Gables
It’s hard to say which part of bakery life burrowed deepest into Naomi Harris’ soul. There’s the bit about being an integral part of a community, a kind of indispensable gathering place. There’s the opportunity, particularly in the industrial-food era, to give people something unlike anything else they’ve tasted. Then, of course, there’s the bread itself.
This December, the soft-spoken 27-year-old hopes to bring all three together when she opens Madruga Bakery, situated on the Coral Gables street of the same name near South Dixie Highway and the University of Miami.
Harris was born in Miami and into restaurant royalty. Her father Larry and his brother Stuart founded Miami’s beloved chicken chain Pollo Tropical in 1988 and took it public in 1993. In 1998 a hulking Burger King franchisee purchased the company for $90 million, making it private yet again.
Harris, meanwhile, didn’t plan for a life in restaurants, never mind one of marathon, overnight baking shifts. She went to Northwestern University to study political and environmental science, with plans to attend law school in hopes of becoming a kind of food-policy wonk. “I always loved baking, but mostly on the side,” she says.
One summer, she interned with the pastry chef at Coral Gables’ now-shuttered Cacao. After college, she enrolled in World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, a group of organizations that places volunteers on farms around the globe. The program took her from Washington state’s Dog Mountain Farm to a resort on Orcas Island that sits in the bay bordering Vancouver and Seattle.