As downtown Stone Mountain continues to revitalize as an arts community, those who come to visit the galleries and other attractions have a new place to grab a bite to eat. Kalonji Bakery, which opened recently around the corner from ART Station, is more than a baked goods shop. It’s a café that also offers salads, sandwiches, ice cream and other food and drink that can be consumed on the premises.
“Actually, we want a homey feel like at our other bakery on Lawrenceville Highway,” said Bruno Kalonji, son of owner Angelica Kalonji, who like the rest of the family has been involved in opening the new business. He chose the colors and many design features of the restaurant.
In addition to such touches as live plants, Kalonji Bakery is decorated with paintings from Stone Mountain galleries that customers can purchase along with their cake and specialty breads.
Officials from the city of Stone Mountain visited the Lawrenceville Highway store and liked what they saw. They provided the owners with incentives to move to Stone Mountain. Like many other businesses in Stone Mountain Village, Kalonji Bakery is housed in what had once been a shuttered retail store. The new store is still a work in progress and the baking for now is all done at the original Kalonji Bakery.
“We may put in televisions and start offering breakfast,” said Bruno, who with his father, did a good deal of work to get the Stone Mountain store ready to open.
“I cannot express how thrilled we are to be a part of the Stone Mountain community,” said Jessica Kalonji, who helps her mother with the cooking and other aspects of the business. “Not only is our business growing but we are grateful to be a part of a very positive movement that will hopefully restore and revitalize Stone Mountain Village.”
The Kalonjis want customers to see their eatery as an alternative to fast food chains. “People compare our sandwiches to the ones in chain sandwich shops and say, ‘Wow, this really is better,’” said Bruno, who added that everything in the café is made fresh from high-quality ingredients.
While business is not yet as brisk as the family would like, Bruno said he is confident that once people taste the food the café will attract a loyal customer base. “This is the kind of food we grew up eating—made from scratch without preservatives and artificial ingredients,” said Bruno, who is a soccer coach at Georgia Perimeter College.
The specialties are the cakes and pastries, which the family say are made in the European tradition. Angelica is from Romania and learned to bake there before marrying Jean-Joseph Kalonji, a native of the Congo. The family lived in Africa until for political reasons they moved in the late 1990s to the United States.
Saba Rewald, a longtime family friend who works in the store, said that some customers at first see their cake prices as a bit high. “People who really like good cake can see that it’s worth it,” she said.
Rewald said the chocolate delight cake is very popular, but Bruno said the strawberry cake is his favorite. The bakery also makes wedding and other special occasion cakes and its cakes are featured in other Atlanta area restaurants.