For Stephanos Mylonas, the idea was to "use the best possible local ingredients, and do them justice." He and his wife, Monica, started small, baking their croissants, breads, and savory pies in a home kitchen to sell at the local farmers markets — perfect timing considering the explosive growth in both popularity and size that our area markets have experienced in the past year. The little booth was called Mylo Coffee Co., and Stephanos, Monica, and some of their extended family worked tirelessly to bake, promote, and sell their goods. Stephanos believes that baked goods should be consumed the day they are baked — which means he gets up as early as 1 a.m. some mornings to begin the day's baking. This dedication to craft and freshness became apparent to all of us who tried Mylo's goods and realized that they were on to something quite special.
Word began to spread about the baked goods and coffee booth, and Mylo responded by adding savory dishes like the pizza-esque pissaladiere and a pastry that would wind up becoming something of a fad and obsession in Little Rock — the kouign amann. These little swirls of baked puff pastry with different fillings, known affectionately on social media as "KA's" became the must-have food item for the market-going masses, causing lines to form at the Mylo table right at the beginning of the farmers market. The popularity of the Mylo kouign amann grew so much, in fact, that Mylo had to start limiting how many people could buy — it was Little Rock's own miniature version of New York cronut madness.
And now, all this hard work and careful planning have resulted in something that will benefit both Mylo and the pastry-consuming crowds: the coffee company has announced that they will be moving into a brick and mortar location at 2715 Kavanaugh Blvd, the current home of River City Tea, Coffee, and Cream (which will move down the road just a few blocks). This space, along with the space next door, will form the backbone of a the new coffee shop, a place that they hope will "serve the community" with its ambiance and, as Stephanos puts it "good-smelling air, full of coffee and baking."
What does a brick and mortar location for Mylo mean? Well first, it will allow them to add meat to the menu. Many of their current items are vegetarian spins on recipes that should have meat in them but currently can't due to market rules about selling meat products. A professional kitchen means no more restrictions on the use of meat, so expect sausage rolls along with the chickpea rolls, pissaladiere made with anchovies (which is authentic), and quiche with bacon or chorizo and other items. Vegetarians need not fear, however, as Mylo will still maintain a wide selection of both sweet and savory items that are veg-friendly. The added space will also allow Mylo to do something the Mylonas family has wanted to do for awhile: bring in Stephanos's brother Markos, a coffee expert, to house-roast coffee on-site. This will not only insure the freshness of the product in each cup, but will also allow Mylo to sell small-batch bags of hand-roasted beans for home consumption.
Mylo is part of Little Rock's growing locavore movement, a mentality they plan to continue once the new location is open. Healthy working relationships built during their time at the markets will carry over into the new brick and mortar location, with products from many of our local producers like Rattle's Garden, Little Rock Urban Farming, and Laughingstock Farms (to name but a few) featuring regularly on the menu. It's this relationship from grower, to restaurant, to consumer, where there's a face and a name for nearly every product sold, that Mylo keeps in mind in everything they do.
So when can we expect to see this new venture for a long-time favorite open? Unfortunately not until the start of 2014. There's a good reason for the delay, though — Mylo wants to take its time to renovate the kitchen and dining areas of their new space just the way they like it. "We want to respect the historic building," says Stephanos, which includes reclaiming some of the old wood they've cleared away to build tables. It's this slow-and-steady mentality that has allowed Mylo to succeed thus far, and one that Stephanos and Monica won't change. "It's slow food," says Stephanos, "I envision this being what I do for decades."
The new Mylo Coffee Co. will be located at 2715 Kavanaugh in Hillcrest. Until the store opens, Mylo will still be setting up weekly at the Hillcrest Farmers Market and Bernice Garden Farmers Market, and Stephanos plans to have his pour-over coffee station up and going in front of the new place during renovations, so fans won't have to miss out while waiting.