Meet the Trader: a Jewish bakery founded by a Ukranian refugee, serving the local Muslim community

Rinkoff Bakery has been established since 1911. Pic: Mia Soares

Rinkoff Bakery, a Jewish run bakery and coffee shop in Whitechapel, has been in business for over 110 years. It has been through five generations, starting with Hyman Rinkoff in 1911 and still run by his family.

Today it still serves the local multi-national population, including the large Muslim community.

Since 2017, Debs Rinkoff, aged 36, great granddaughter of Hyman has been managing the coffee shop and wholesale customers. The bakery holds onto its roots, using her great grandfather’s original recipes for many of their creations.

“I feel very strongly about this bakery being part of the Whitechapel community and I think what for me is so special is being a Jewish bakery and being part of the Muslim community as well.”

Debs agrees that they have a “cute little community” revolving around the bakery, tucked away in Jubilee Street in Whitechapel. She sees many regulars everyday. “Pretty much all of the customers in the shop would be regular customers. So you see the same people every day around the same time. They’re all doing the same thing. All of the shop staff get to know them pretty well.

She told EastLondonLines: “Our great grandfather came over here from Ukraine because he had to escape. The things that we make are the traditional recipes from Ukraine and Poland, like the cheesecakes and sourdoughs.”

Bread and rolls on sale. Pic: Mia Soares

“We’re still family run and family owned and people really like that. They know when they come in that they’re going to see one of the family [members] working, or when they call the office, they’re speaking to a Rinkoff. So, I think people really like that there is a bit more of a human touch to it compared to when you’re dealing with a big corporate company.

“We’re all a Rinkoff here, so everything feels a bit more meaningful because the business is being passed down generation to generation and your name is on the front. You don’t want to be the generation that messes it up, so we want to be able to carry the business, which can be stressful. But then there’s also a lot of really positive and good things that come from it as well.”

The Bakery sells an array of baked goods; ranging from sourdough bread to cinnamon rolls to their much loved ‘crodoughs’. Debs’ sister, Jennifer Rinkoff, discovered the cronut during a trip in New York seven or eight years ago and made her own fillings and ideas, renaming it crodough, which became their bestseller.

“We probably go through about 300 to 400 a day and on a weekend, about 500 to 600. That’s our best selling product by far. The most popular and best selling ones are the caramel and pistachio flavours.

“People love something that’s a hybrid. So because it’s croissant dough and then it’s fried like a doughnut, you get the mix of the best of both worlds.” Jennifer Rinkoff explained to ELL.

Debs’ favorite crodough is the nutella and marshmallow. Pic: Mia Soares

Debs’ priority is customer satisfaction and treating their buyers right. “You know how you like to be treated and you want to be treated with a smile and be friendly. So, even if someone leaves us a negative review, we want to try and give them a positive experience.

On Google reviews, it has an average score of 4.5 and there are great reviews, saying how “how rich smelling” the crodoughs are, that the “staff are friendly and very helpful”, there is a “wide selection of baked treats” and the bakery being hidden away “gives it a quaint feel”.

“So for me, it’s really important to understand what they didn’t enjoy [their experience] and see if we can try and improve. I reply to every single [online] review, good or bad. People are entitled to their opinions and we can’t please everyone, but I would always want to offer them a chance to come back and try us again.”

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