La Waffletz is opening Unique Bakery in downtown Tacoma
In 2015, husband-wife baking team Roger Martinho and Mirtha Sanchez opened their tiny, tiny bakery inside Tacoma’s Freighthouse Square food court.
La Waffletz and Macaron Station could barely fit two pastry chefs in its kitchen.
Yet, somehow in that tiny space, Martinho and Sanchez produced 12+ daily macaron choices and liege dessert waffles plated with fresh fruit and pretty sauces.
Tacomans (especially this one) mourned when Martinho and Sanchez closed their bakery in 2019.
That was right after Martinho underwent a tricky heart transplant.
I have two excellent things to report, more than 18 months after La Waffletz and Macaron Station closed.
One: The heart transplant was a success. Martinho is feeling better than ever.
Two: Martinho is feeling so strong, he and Sanchez are opening another bakery in downtown Tacoma.
Unique Bakery will be just as the name describes – a downtown bakery offering Parisian delights plucked from Martinho’s background as a classically trained French pastry chef, plus a whole lot more.
Martinho’s family is from Portugal, but he grew up in France. His Portuguese grandma taught him his love for baking. He once owned a bakery in Liege, Belgium, and spent much of his career working for corporations and hotels. He and Sanchez met while they worked for a pastry corporation.
If all goes as planned, they’ll open Unique Bakery in November at 925 Market Street, sandwiched between the Tacoma Comedy Club and Tacoma Rubber Stamp & Supply.
“We’re calling it Unique Bakery because we have so many things inside the bakery,” said Martinho. “Everything is made here. We’ll get here every morning at 5 a.m. so that everything will be fresh.”
The list of their offerings at Tacoma’s Unique Bakery will make a pastry lover’s head spin: Croissants, eclairs, cinnamon rolls, a broad selection of French pastries, Italian desserts, German cakes, cheesecakes, churros, and of course, the macarons that made Martinho and Sanchez regionally famous.
MACARONS ARE A SPECIALTY AT UNIQUE BAKERY AND COFFEE
For those who never tried one of their delicate macarons, here’s a cheat sheet description: they’re Parisian cookies, not those sticky coconut cookies. Those are macaroons. Macarons are made from an almond flour and egg white batter. The delicate cookies are more meringue than anything, with a tender crust that bends to a chewy interior, with sweet fillings ranging from buttercream to ganache.
Martinho and Sanchez were known for their straightforward macaron flavors, but also more fanciful pairings, such as Tajin-mango, rose-raspberry, lavender, black currant and a personal favorite, the cinnamon roll themed macaron.
“We’ll have more than 20 kinds every day at Unique Bakery,” said Martinho. He and Sanchez intend to roll out the same unexpected flavor pairings. While Martinho was still recovering from heart surgery, he and Sanchez kept one foot in the macaron and dessert business with their Artisan French Confection. They operated the small wholesale-only bakery in Sumner with Sanchez while they waited to open another bakery to the public. Through that Sumner wholesale bakery, they serviced large wholesale-only accounts – from corporations to airlines.
They’re glad to return to a public-facing bakery once again.
LIEGE WAFFLES AND MORE
“The liege waffles, we’ll have those,” added Martinho, who carved out a niche at Freighthouse Square as one of very few restaurants offering the famous yeasted waffles from Belgium in Tacoma (tip: a newish business with liege waffles is Munch Munch Waffles – check out my story here).
There will be an offering of savory café-style fare, too, which will be perfect for lunch or dinner, as the bakery will stay open later into the evening.
Martinho and Sanchez described quiche, ham-and-cheese croissants, spinach-feta croissants, sausage rolls and other café offerings.
They intend to be open most days at 6 a.m. and will serve into the evening, most likely 8 or 9 p.m. They’ll have shorter hours on Sundays. They intend to be open 7 days a week.
Coffee will be from Caffé D’arte, with beans roasted to specification for Unique Bakery.
WHAT’S INSIDE UNIQUE BAKERY
The 3,000 square foot space is considerably larger than their tiny Freighthouse Square pastry stand. “It’s 3,000 square feet total, with 1,800 of that for customers up front and 1,200 devoted in the kitchen,” said Martinho. Daughters Dennise and Arme will help at the bakery, as well.
Sanchez said the wall of windows at the front of the building will give the bakery an airy appearance. They can fit 15 tables, or about 50 diners, comfortably, but due to capacity restrictions right now, they’ll open with about 7 tables and room for around 20.
There will be two bakery pastry cases at the register so that diners can survey the offerings before ordering.
“I love this city and this country and I need to give back something and keep baking,” said Martinho. He and Sanchez said they’re thankful for the longtime customers who checked on Martinho while he was recovering from surgery. “Thank you to all our customers for your support,” he said.
UNIQUE BAKERY AND COFFEE
Where: 925 Market St., Tacoma
NOW OPEN: VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT WITH FANCY COCKTAILS
Did you catch my story about Saigon House? The restaurant opened on 38th with upscale Vietnamese cuisine and fancy cocktails. Read more here.