Walking through the door of Chez Bazan, you feel and smell the warm atmosphere of a European bakery, and immediately see the tantalizing cookies, cakes, and baked delicacies displayed in their glass cases.
What makes this café so different is the legacy of family and tradition that is a testament of hard work and perseverance. Richard Bazan, an award winning chef, brought his talent and expertise to Tyler, opening “Chez Bazan” in 1985. He worked feverishly to make it the foremost bakery in the area, but in 1999 he died at the young age of 44. He left behind a loving family who remember working alongside him in the kitchen, with hands mixing icing and waiting on customers.
“Chez Bazan means ‘the home of,’” explains effervescent Claudia Bazan Hill, “and do not be surprised to see members of the family greeting and serving you.” Graciela Bazan, the matriarch of the family, can be found most days at a corner table, under a wall of pictures of all the grandchildren, blessing guests and the food that will be enjoyed. “Our mother is truly the glue that has kept the business going,” says Claudia. “She is our biggest cheerleader, nurturer, critic, and prayer warrior.”
The café is truly a family affair, with brother Ralph serving as the head baker and younger sister Anna, who recently moved to Kansas City, lending her expertise in marketing and public relations.
It does not take long to understand what is important to the Bazan family. “We were doing full-time catering, as well as weddings and special events,” remembers Claudia. “I was working every weekend and never seeing my husband and kids, and I had a moment when I thought, ‘am I going follow in my father’s footsteps and not see my kids grow up?’” So the business was actually scaled back and today, the café buzzes with business between 11-2pm when lunch is served, but the bakery stays open for walk-ins and special orders.
This year Chez Bazan celebrates thirty years of wonderful food and a passion for people, and Claudia is the first to say that the family is humbled by the support and friendships they have made throughout the years. “In March, we designed a wedding cake for a bride and discovered that we had made her first birthday cake as well. We don’t just want to make one cake for you, we want to be there for your wedding, baby shower, and for your family birthday celebrations too.”
The bakery itself is open Monday-Friday from 7am-6pm, Saturday 8am-4pm, and is closed Sundays. The selection of fresh baked treats is extensive and includes cookies of every variety, macadamia nut, butter pecan, and oatmeal raisin, to name a few. Fresh cream pies are a house favorite and selections include key lime, coconut cream, and strawberry cream. Fresh bread is baked daily, along with cheesecakes, miniature pastries, and of course their custom cakes.
The Café at the Chez has a very elaborate coffee bar which features cold, hot and frozen specialties, and folks are encouraged to drop by for Happy Hour, Monday-Friday from 3-5pm, when all drinks on the menu are $1 off.
The lunch experience at Chez Bazan is a relaxing affair and best enjoyed when you can take your time. As Claudia explains, “you will see every age, culture and ethnicity at lunchtime, from moms with babies to businessmen.” The menu has something for every palate from fresh salads (chicken Caesar, California, tuna and very berry) to crêpes, quiches, and hot soups (including Gracie’s chicken tortilla, which has been featured in “Southern Living” Magazine). Signature sandwiches include smoked turkey avocado, turkey bacon melt, French dip, and their Dad’s all time favorite, Jamaican chicken.
Chez Bazan can handle your catering needs too, with fruit and cheese party trays, boxed lunches, and salad boxes, with a minimum 24 hour notice. They can help with breakfast as well, with trays of pigs-in-a-blanket, fresh fruit, petite quiches, or the breakfast sampler (mini butter croissants, mini scones, and mini cinnamon rolls).
The bakery also has a beautiful private Chatham Clock room that is available for special occasions. They have hosted birthday parties, bridal, wedding, and baby showers, and corporate meetings.
But for some, it is all about the cakes, custom made to order and Chez Bazan’s specialty. At the front of the store, there is a touch screen online photo gallery of Chez Bazan’s fantastic cake creations, featuring bride and groom’s cakes and birthday cakes. You can scroll to your heart’s content, and get some great ideas for your own big event.
“We hope that a visit to Chez Bazan will make you feel at home and put a smile on your face, whether you come in for a cookie or just need a break from a hectic day,” says Claudia.
Chez Bazan is located at 5930 Old Bullard Road in Tyler.
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