Have You Met Amy Wakser?
There are many ways to give back to the community, but restaurant and bakery owner Amy Wakser chooses a very immediate, sustaining, and nourishing activity: “Every day we donate our leftover bread to the VA hospital and homeless shelters. Several churches also benefit!”
Arizona Bread Company was a dream of Amy and her husband Matt, brothers and parents, when they moved to Phoenix twenty years ago. “We wanted to open a restaurant, and felt that there was a niche we could fill in the area market. We produce artisan breads with no fats or preservatives, all made by hand with quality ingredients.” Besides bread, their restaurant serves a variety of soups all made with only fresh ingredients.
The Waksers moved to Arizona from Ohio. “I grew up in Dayton, and graduated from Ohio State University, where I was in a sorority with Myra Richman! Then I earned a master’s degree in Industrial Psychology from Cleveland State. But before that, when I was in high school, my parents visited Arizona and fell in love with the area. My father was an optometrist and even opened a store down here. They always wanted to make the move, but didn’t until many years later. My brother attended grad school at ASU, and so my family has all gradually moved to Arizona.”
She emphasizes, “I love everything about Phoenix – it’s a beautiful city with friendly people, and the weather is great, especially when I hear what my friends in Ohio had to endure this winter!”
Cheerful and energetic, Amy shares that “In October we will celebrate being in business 20 years! We are very proud to be a family owned- business. And we’ve succeeded in a huge city with numerous franchise restaurants in multiple locations. We must be good employers since we’ve had the same chef for almost all of those years!”
She explains, “What I like best is the flexibility of owning our own business, and I love working with my husband and two daughters. My hands are always busy; it’s been a great learning experience! We are very proud of our products. And when you walk in the door you will be greeted either by me or my mom!”
In her free time Amy enjoys going to the gym, and following her daughters as they play various sports. “I also get a thrill from finding bargains with my sister-in-law; we are great thrift shoppers and treasure hunters!”
Amy herself doesn’t get to enjoy her restaurants products, since she has Celiac disease. But others always benefit: “When the nearby elementary schools have teacher appreciation weeks, we donate items. And we frequently give out gift certificates and products to various charitable organizations.”
Maybe the most effective way to help others is as the Waksers do, giving what you do best!
What are your local volunteer activities? We donate leftover bread to local churches, schools and the VA, work at many farmers’ markets
Who inspired you to give back to your community? My girls, it’s very important to them
Which fundraising event is your favorite? The Culinary Festival
Favorite restaurant? The Arizona Bread Company -- of course
Whom do you most admire, and why? My husband, Matt. He’s an amazing business partner and life partner. He is really good to our girls and the people he deals with daily.
If your life were a movie, who would you want to play your part? Sandra Bullock
Do you have any pets? Yes – we have a golden doodle named: Harley Woodrow Wakser
Favorite TV show? Revenge, The Housewives
When you move, what will your home tell its next owner about you? That a lot of love was shared in this house.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned through the years? Work hard, be honest and thank people every day!
What was your first job? I delivered glasses from store to store for my dad, who is an optometrist
What is your greatest indulgence? Shopping
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? Being happily married for more than 20 years and raising two amazing girls.
What is your most treasured possession? My family
What is the quality you most like in people? Genuine personalities
Favorite books/writers? I’m a magazine reader
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Lying
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Going to the gym
What would we be most surprised to know about you? That I have a master’s degree and that I have owned The Arizona Bread Company for 20 years
What is the best advice you have ever received? Work smarter – not harder
Excellent work you are doing!!