Helen’s: Just Like Grandma’s
Helen’s is a quaint little bakery on Kayal Street that is as inconspicuous as it is stimulating. The pet project of two friends, Ahmed Ismail and Akram Saab, Helen’s provides a brief reprieve from the now ever-popular plethora of ultra-modern coffee shops and bakeries.
The bakery gets its name from its main chef, Helen, who happens to be Akram’s mother, and her desire to expand what had become a successful out-of-home baking operation. Akram’s need to “see mom happy” developed into what the two business partners hope will become a flourishing franchise.
A feeling of rejuvenation is the best way to describe the initial experience upon entry to Helen’s white-panelled door. The vaulted ceiling and soft pastel colors throughout the bakery are both inviting and comforting, welcoming feelings reminiscent of a grandma’s kitchen. The food layout is simple and refreshing with a single display case providing a visual feast for the eyes. The decadence of brownies and cakes immediately makes you salivate in anticipation. The palatable expedition begins with choices of cupcakes or regular cakes in flavours of chocolate chip, cinnamon and coconut, tropical or classic carrot, chocolate, or blueberry. Their cookie selection ranges from the regular chocolate chip to “Helen’s Special Cookie,” which incorporates chocolate chips, chocolate, walnuts and oatmeal. And if you’re more a cheesecake person like me, there are various gourmet cheesecakes as well as pies du jour for you to choose from.
Of course, the food display is just the beginning of your journey through the homemade paradise. Pass through the open doorway to the sitting area and you are greeted to a room that I can best illustrate as a blown up dollhouse. Ahmed accurately describes the look they were going for as, “An atmosphere just like a grandma’s house.” Helen’s is an adorably cute tearoom that is the perfect place to meet up with girlfriends to chat over tea and delicious baked goods. The seats are petite and give off an aura of delicateness, all playing into the grandma’s home-like theme with the family-made quilt and framed dishes hanging on the white-stone walls. Currently in just its first month of operation, Helen’s has seemingly found a niche in the “ladies meeting for a tea party” market and with the help of a healthy selection of delectable baked goods and two enthusiastic owners, it will continue to flourish.
“We realized that cupcakes were the ‘happening’ thing,” – Akram Saab
“This is our first business and we consider it our baby, and just want to see it grow.” – Ahmed Ismail