The pita uses a secret family recipe and it is the best seller at the Bread Basket in Flint. Jake Carah
Marwan Hamade starts making the fresh pita at Bread Basket in Flint at 4 a.m. The business has been in Flint for 45 years. Jake Carah
"This box is a Catholic saint ... and this cup says, ‘Allah.’ This says to people coming in, everyone is welcome,” says Marwan Hamade. Jake Carah
Various knick knacks fill the shelves at the Bread Basket in Flint. Jake Carah
The Bread Basket in Flint is carrying on the tradition of high-quality Middle Eastern food in Flint. Jake Carah
The smell of hummus, cheese bread, garlic chips, meat and spinach pie, and freshly made pita fill the air inside the Bread Basket, a small, family-owned shop on Flint’s westside.
For 45 years, the Hamade family has been here at the corner of Corunna Road and Hughes Avenue. Marwan Hamade is behind the counter today, like most days, and he attributes the store’s longevity to two key ingredients: A secret family recipe and community support.
“People around here know us. They know we have quality,” said Hamade, who took over the store from his uncle, who passed away 10 years ago. The baker shows a brief smile and infinite pride in his community.
“I know that the water crisis has made things hard, but Flint people—real Flint people—are tough,” Hamade says. “Flint is my home. We’re from here, and we will do what Flint people do: We will fight, and look out for each other. I can’t turn my back on the people here, because they haven’t on me.”
His pride in his community is matched only by that of his pita.
Hamade, 52, is a sort of reserved and quiet man, yet gets animated when he starts talking about his family’s pita—which he prepares every morning, starting at 4 a.m.
“Our pita is the best and the most popular item,” he says. “It's the best because it's the freshest. We don’t use any additives, no byproducts or animal fats of any kind. It's pure and people can tell by the taste.”
Leaning a little further over the counter, with his morning goods nearly sold out, the baker says he is happy to continue the tradition in Flint of making high-quality Middle Eastern food, particularly Lebanese cuisine.
“Lebanese people’s ancestors are the Phoenicians,” he said. “They were known for their seafaring, exploring, but also their fine goods. It's a legacy we have here. We provide good stuff.”
He is quick to clarify that the very best Middle Eastern food can only be found in one place. It is made with love and “is what my wife cooks. She’s the best. To me, she’s the best in town.”
Walking over to the front window, Marwan motions to a small mug and intricate jewelry box with other assorted knick knacks. “This is my other favorite thing here in the shop, you see,” he says, pointing at the mug and box. “I’m not a very religious man, but many of my customers are. This box is a Catholic saint ... and this cup says, ‘Allah.’ This says to people coming in, everyone is welcome.”
Our tip: Come early for the best selection of baked goods and remember that this family business operates as it has for generations: That means the pita is the same delicious family recipe and payment is cash only.
The Bread Basket, located at 3001 Corunna Road, is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed on Sundays.