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The Proof is in the Rise: Bait Lehem on Introducing Diverse Flavors to the Local Market

The Proof is in the Rise: Bait Lehem on Introducing Diverse Flavors to the Local Market

Business & Career | March 29, 2022
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Set on introducing something different to a pandesal-loving market, Bait Lehem serves traditionally-baked bread—made with authentic flavors.

Bait Lehem House of Bread Corp began out of a sincere love for Filipinos. “In Israel, I saw how Filipinos struggled and how hard they worked to provide for their families here in the Philippines,” shares Tine Areola, President of Bait Lehem. “We wanted to help in our own little way and create jobs for these people while bringing in new flavors to Filipino homes. We strongly believe that it would be better if families stayed together.”

On Diversifying the Filipino Palate

Bait Lehem, after all, is also a family business. Tine serves as president while her partner, Michael Tweg, serves as the managing director. The bakery derives its name from the Hebrew words bait” and “lehem” meaning house and bread, respectively, and it opened its doors back in 2012.

“Back then, we were only serving pita, falafel, and other traditional bread from the Holy Land. We started the business because we saw that there was great potential and a market for it,” Tine reveals.

Soon enough, they expanded their selection with food like challah, babkas, and even non-baked goods like matboukha (eggplant dip). When asked what made their bread so good, they answered with ease: “We create quality bread with authentic flavors, baked in a traditional way. We don’t do shortcuts, [and we] never miss a step in the process. We believe that the long way is the sure and best way to do things.”

Rising Above Adversity

The bakery had been doing well by itself for many years until the pandemic hit. And amid all that, Tine and Michael knew they had to persevere. While the couple described that period as a “very depressing” time, it did not give them a reason to lose hope. “It was during this time when new doors opened for us and we started getting orders from a well-known café, some prestigious hotels, and other establishments.”

The couple originally thought that this was a temporary measure due to lockdowns, which made it hard for businesses to source elsewhere. Luckily, they were wrong. “We’re happy that up until now, even with the economy slowly getting back to normal, our partners are still with us. So I think we’re doing the right thing here,” Tine enthuses.

One Big Family

Tine and Michael believe that challenges and change are just part and parcel of owning a business. “No matter what the situation is, we just keep on striving, armored with patience and determination. Our people are our priority.” Thus, part of their operational plan during the pandemic was offering their employees a place to stay for everyone’s safety. “We didn’t want them to be exposed or catch a virus when they travel each for work. We stayed under one roof as a big family.”

With their people safe and their products available, Bait Lehem was able to continue operations. But they didn’t just stop there. “Business continuity for us doesn’t only focus on revenue-generating factors of the company. The roles and responsibilities are clearly assigned and they are supported at all times.”

Likewise, they stand by their life motto: “Teach and give opportunities. Educate and give inspiration.” Michael shares, “We educate and train our people. We coach them to be open and do other things and explore because it will create more opportunities for them.”

The Secret to Success

Their people-first approach is vital to the survival of their business and they advise the same for young entrepreneurs looking to start a food business. “You also need to have a strong determination, patience, and passion.

Moreover, Tine and Michael believe that everything has to be approached with an open mind and an open heart to learn and listen. “Be ready to blend. Jump in and don’t be afraid to do something unconventional and introduce new products. People are always interested to try new things and taste new food.”

And just like their open-mindedness to introduce new things, the local audience is just as receptive to new dishes and flavors—a blessing in disguise amid the pandemic. “While the Filipinos are enjoying the famous pandesal, we took the courage and introduced the pita and Filipinos are loving it,” Tine ends on a happy note.

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Pinky is the President and CEO of Progressive Laboratories, Qualibet Testing Services Corp. and KPP Powers Commodities. A chemist by profession, she is also the President of the Association of the Bureau of Animal Industry Registered Companies and Recognized Testing Laboratories (ABAIL). A humanitarian at heart, Pinky hosts a weekly online show called Grateful Tuesdays. On top of all this, she is also a wife and a mother of two.
More from Pinky Tobiano

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