Lawyer now representing himself as a baker

Posted: March 25, 2014

M ICHAEL DOLICH, 44, of West Philadelphia, a former lawyer, owns Four Worlds Bakery, on Woodland Avenue near 47th Street in West Philadelphia. The artisan bakery features naturally fermented breads, bagels and authentic French croissants. The bakery started and grew out of the basement of a West Philly co-op. Dolich invested $175,000 in personal savings and sweat equity to start and grow the business.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for the bakery?

A: I got hooked on sourdough and it became a hobby. I was at a retreat center in the Catskills [in New York state] and baked a lot of bread. I spent a year in Israel, then I took a year off from my law practice and later went back to practicing law, but it just wasn't working for me. Once I started working with my hands, making food and feeding people, I was just happier.

Q: How'd the biz evolve?

A: In 2006, I started a bakery out of the basement of my home, which we rented as a co-op. The bakery operated there for more than a year and people would order on the Internet and pick up on the porch. Then we moved to a renovated carriage house behind an Ethiopian restaurant in West Philly for two years, and that's when we started wholesaling and I began making French croissants, which I learned at [now-closed] Le Bec-Fin.

Q: You baked there?

A: Yeah, for a year. I learned croissant [making] from the master [French] baker, Stephane, who was head baker at Le Bec-Fin and is now chef/owner of Au Fournil in Narberth.

Q: The biz model?

A: About 75 percent of sales are wholesale. Ultimo Coffee, OCF Coffee House, all Green Line Cafes, and Mariposa Food Co-op and Weavers Way Co-op are main customers. And the rest is retail. I'd say most retail customers are from University City.

Q: What's in the name?

A: It's based on the notion that the universe is comprised of four "worlds" from the kabbalah and reflects the experience of spirit, mind, heart and body.

Q: What separates Four Worlds from other bakeries?

A: The most significant thing is the freshness of our products because of our distribution system. We come in at 4:30 a.m., we start deliveries at 6 and everything is delivered by 7:30. When our [wholesale] customers get our stuff, it's still warm from the oven. We have a truck and two part-time drivers. Another thing that differentiates us is our croissants, a very difficult product to make. Stephane and I are probably the only [local] bakers who make real French croissants. They're made by hand and we sheet them out. They're hard to find in Philly.

Q: How big a biz is this?

A: It's over $300,000 a year.

On Twitter: @MHinkelman



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