Milk Bar: How Building a Dessert Empire Comes With Challenges

Milk Bar, a dessert concept by renowned chef Christina Tosi, is expanding rapidly across the country.

The dessert-focused restaurant recently held a new-employee orientation in Brooklyn, NY and instead of having other leaders on her team lead the meeting, Tosi surprised the new staff members by running the orientation.

Tosi, who started the chain 10 years ago, doesn't want employees to ever lose sight of what the brand stands for.

Dessert! Baked goods! Me! You! We are the conduit for it all. Milk Bar is Magic. Milk Bar is a movement," reads the last few lines of the brand's mission statement that Tosi read at the orientation.

Tosi has built a brand that is still up-and-coming and has quickly garnered a loyal following. The 16th store opened in the Boston suburb Cambridge in the beginning of the month. The number of employees has spiked by 70 percent in the last year and most of the management team is made up of women.

But with expansion, comes a unique set of challenges. While Tosi doesn't want the brand to lose its small-shop charm, she wants to bring Milk Bar's treats to the masses.

“Growing fast feels like selling out, but I realized if we controlled the growth it could be really cool, too,” said Tosi to "The New York Times” (NYT.)

Tosi takes a hands-on approach when it comes to the stores.

"She samples every type of cookie and batch of soft-serve when she walks into any of her stores, noting in an instant if the batter was overmixed or if the soft-serve temperature is off," writes the "NYT."

But she can't be everywhere and that's where she is going to have to rely on Milk Bar teams across the country that she can trust.

Even though she has big plans for the growth of the brand, she still doesn't want Milk Bar to be like Starbucks on every corner.

“I sat with it and lost a lot of sleep over it and finally I was just like, ‘That’s just not what we are,’” said Tosi to the "NYT."

The Milk Bar team plans to focus on cities where the concept already has a following but also has its sights set on retail. Will Milk Bar desserts be on the shelves of grocery stores in the not so distant future? Tosi hopes so.

Milk Bar is also making a push to sell more products on its soon to be enhanced e-commerce platform.

Read more about how Tosi has built a dessert empire at the "NYT" now.

Speaking of dessert, check out the video below featuring some of the wildly popular desserts at Miami's Michael's Genuine. The executive pastry chef explains why some of the desserts have become fan-favorites and also gives some tips for aspiring pastry chefs.