Downtown Flagstaff caters to a bunch of different palates where local foodies and travelers can find something that satisfies their taste buds. Shift Kitchen and Bar dedicates the first Saturday of each month to individuals with a sweet tooth. Owner and pastry chef Dara Wong has continued this tradition since it opened back in April 2016.

Wong said in a Q&A  done by VoyagePhoenix that she is loving almost every minute where she gets to run her own restaurant. Wong is an entrepreneur and the sole owner of Shift. She studied business management at the University of Denver and after graduating, immersed herself in a culinary program called Cook Street School of Culinary Arts where she found her passion for making pastries. She moved to Flagstaff in hopes of starting her own culinary business and that is how Shift  came to be. 

Shift is a restaurant that challenges the norm of everyday meals and reinvents them by adding a personal touch. According to its website, the goal is to shift the mentality of the normal dining experience with its creations. Shift has come out as an award-winning business, when in 2018 it won the Excellence in Innovation award from the Devour Excellence Awards.

Not only does the restaurant create savory meals, but Shift  hosts a bake sale each month to display their pastry-making talents. Wong and employees make a variety of pastries when the event rolls around. It is most recognized for the croissant selections, but that is not all it has to offer. 

“It’s a lot of different croissants, danishes, quiches, breakfast sandwiches and more,” Wong said. “It all depends on what I want to make, so it’s not always the same as the month before.”

According to its website, the bake sale runs from 8-11 a.m. and is only on the first Saturday of each month, and it can sell out in a short period of time. However, due to the pandemic, the way Shift operates has changed. It has limited the amount of people inside the establishment and is only operating at 50% capacity to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Wong said people start lining up around 7:45 a.m. waiting to be called in, but sometimes not everyone is able to be served. The restaurant only has three parties inside at a time to stay cautious with the virus, Wong explained.

The pandemic has limited occupancy, but its customer list continues to grow. Senior and local foodie Yarleni Grande said she is fond of Shift and has been since she first visited in 2017.

“I lean on the sweeter side of things when it comes to food,” Grande said. “I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but I try to be very mindful about what I treat myself to. I’ll never forget this chocolate cannoli that I tried at Shift. It was one of my favorites and I always think back to it.”

“I lean on the sweeter side of things when it comes to food,” Grande said. “I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but I try to be very mindful about what I treat myself to. I’ll never forget this chocolate cannoli that I tried at Shift. It was one of my favorites and I always think back to it.”

Grande said Shift Kitchen will always have a special place in her heart because it was one of her early memories when visiting Flagstaff, and she rates it one of the best eateries in town. She said she plans on attending Shift Kitchen’s next bake sale.

The surprise menu items are so enticing that they are bringing in new customers from the community, especially NAU students.

Junior Esequiel Camacho said he plans on visiting the establishment as soon as his busy schedule frees up. Camacho is a full-time student and works as an emergency medical technician. In his free time, he tries to find new places to dine at whenever he gets the chance. His search for new restaurants includes browsing through the dessert menu for unique treats, and he said he is excited to plan his visit to Shift Kitchen’s bake sale and try some pastries and the espresso it has.

“Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and I would definitely say that loving sweet foods stems off of that,” Camacho said. “My partner and I are always up for trying new places and she’s a huge coffee fan, so she’s excited to try the coffee options at Shift with the goods we’ll be getting.”

The Shift bake sale is operated on a first-come, first-served basis. 

At the moment, Shift does not have a system in place for preorders for the bake sale, but Wong said she will be considering it for the months to come. The bake sale has been a tradition that has continued for almost five years, bringing the community together and making Saturday mornings that much sweeter. Wong said the bake sale will continue every month for the foreseeable future. 

For those looking to try something new, Shift is a place to visit when in Flagstaff. Its menu is full of platters that cater to every mood. Shift gives a new meaning to innovation and brings a sweeter essence to the community with baked goods galore.