European Vocation

Solon native Michael Bruno returns home and brings a taste of the traditional German waffle house to his mother-in-law’s Cuyahoga Falls restaurant.
Michael Bruno’s day starts at 3:30 a.m. It’s just part of being a baker. But the self-discipline needed to get up at such an hour was honed long before he ever started turning out tasty croissants or considered opening his own shop. Prior to all of that, Bruno was a United States Marine.

“While I was in the Marine Corps, everywhere I traveled in the United States, my wife and I would go exploring,” he recalls. “We would always joke and say we’re looking for the waffle house, but we never found one.”

Bruno isn’t referring to the chain of cheap breakfast joints but the German pastry shops he visited during family trips abroad as a child. The memories of fresh pastries served in a relaxing, sit-down environment stuck with him.

Ten years into his military career, he began making plans to open a European-style bakery of his own.

While stationed in Virginia, he would put in a full day of work before driving to Maryland’s L’Academie de Cuisine to take night classes in its pastry arts program. Bruno also read books by several master chefs and often e-mailed them with questions.

After retiring from the Marine Corp last year, the Solon native and his wife, who grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, moved their family to Ohio and began scouting bakery locations. Bruno had specific ideas about the type of place he wanted.

“I really found three criteria that made a bakery successful,” Bruno says. “One, it had to be on a major road that people used to get to work. Two, the road had to have access to the building from both sides, so no median in the middle. Three, it had to have good parking, easy parking.”

Luckily, he had a family connection that fit the bill: his mother-in-law’s Golden Goose Restaurant in Cuyahoga Falls. He opened his bakery inside the eatery in August.

Walk into the Golden Goose, and you miss the European influence at first. The diner-style booths and décor confirm that the place is first and foremost a restaurant. Then you spot Bruno’s counter filled with fresh, homemade pastries: chocolate croissants, cinnamon twists, almond and apricot Danishes. The ever-changing whiteboard is devoted to his made-to-order specials: quiches, crepes, waffles and gourmet hot chocolate.

He says some people are unsure what to make of his approach, adding that one of his biggest challenges is convincing would-be customers why they should stop in and see him as part of their morning routine rather than swing by the McDonald’s drive-through window.

“It’s taken a little bit of time,” he says. “But it’s catching on, slowly but surely.”

The Golden Goose Restaurant & Bakery, 1970 State Road, Cuyahoga Falls, 330-926-9774;
Share this story: