Ridley couple bring taste of Europe to Delaware County – Delco Times

RIDLEY PARK — Raisa and Illya Zayarchenko have had a long-cherished dream in their hearts for many years. The couple, residents of the Folsom section of Ridley Township, have traveled the world and have always enjoyed the little cafes that typically line the streets of most European cities.

“We’ve always had a dream of owning our own coffee shop in a small town where people can come and relax and have a relaxing time together with quality coffee and freshly baked pastries,” Raisa shared.

The Zayarchenkos’ longtime dream came true last month when they opened the doors of their first-ever store, Ardor Bakery and Coffee, at 119 E. Sellers Ave., in the heart of downtown Ridley Park. In addition to fresh coffee, the café offers freshly baked croissants, muffins, cookies, puff pastries, macarons, tarts, strawberry shortcakes and more, as well as breakfast and lunch sandwiches and other bistro offerings. The aroma of freshly baked goods from the European-style oven lures guests to sit down and enjoy a while in good company, with a specialty bakery and a cup of hot coffee made from freshly ground Lavazza beans or soothing hot tea. The bakery has relaxing “chill” music playing in the background and free WiFi is available.

Raisa and Ilya, both native Ukrainians, met at Crum Lynne’s Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Church in Ridley Township. They have been married for 17 years and have a son, Michael, a freshman at Ridley High School who works part-time at Ardor. Father Illya is a 2002 Ridley graduate, a member of the very first class to graduate from the then-new Ridley High School. He is currently employed full-time as a steel boiler technician at the Power House Equipment Company in New Jersey.

Raisa also works full time as a Business Analyst at WSFS headquarters in Wilmington. She graduated from high school in Ukraine and moved here with her family in 1997, although she speaks very little English. A quick learner, Raisa has quickly mastered the language of her new home.

Raisa Zayarchenko, left, holds a plate of her freshly baked croissants and her husband Illya Zayarchenko, right, holds homemade biscuits at Ardor Bakery and Coffee in Ridley Park, where the couple bakes everything fresh daily. (PEG DEGRASSA/ MediaNews Group)

The busy couple start their day at 4:30am, heading to Ardor Bakery and Coffee to bake the day’s fresh croissants, muffins, cinnamon rolls and other delicious baked goods, which may vary each day.

“People have loved our stuff so far,” Raisa said. “We’ve sold out almost every day since we opened on January 4th, and that’s fine because we aim to bake fresh every day. We don’t want to use preservatives or bulk produce to become a business. We want to remain a cafe and offer a new selection of freshly baked goods every day.”

Raisa explained that she learned to bake growing up in Ukraine. Almost all women there are taught domestic skills, including baking. Since then she has loved baking and has also taught Illya the art of baking.

Illya and Raisa found the “perfect place” to shop for their dream business at the start of the national quarantine in March 2020.

“We wanted our cafe to be in our own community,” Raisa said. “This is a great area with lots of wonderful people. We are very happy with the location we have chosen. Everyone welcomed us so warmly.”
The building, housed in a former hair salon, had to be completely gutted and refurbished to become a welcoming, modern cafe that looks and feels welcoming and warmly hospitable to customers, whether they’re take-out or sit-in are during. There is spacious seating for at least a dozen café-goers. All of the renovations at Ardor Bakery and Coffee have been done by the family.

“In America, we’ve found small cafes in some big cities like DC or Houston, but not in small city centers like this one,” Illya noted. “When we found one, they offered coffee or baked goods, not both together. Baked goods are also brought in from elsewhere. We wanted to offer freshly prepared baked goods directly on site. We want people to come in and smell what’s being baked!”

A selection of freshly baked goods line the display cases at Ardor Bakery and Coffee in Ridley Park.

Since 2012, the Zayarchenko family has made it a point to visit cafes on their many trips abroad and note their distinctive features so that one day they can recreate them in their local cafe. As their dream neared reality, the couple learned how to run a business the way they wanted from their dear friend Alex Korsykov, who owns OfKors Bakery in Sarasota, Florida. Korsykov offered advice and training to ensure their success. He even gifted the Zayarchenko family the Ardor Bakery and Coffee sign, which proudly and prominently hangs on the main wall of the new cafe.

“We chose the name ‘Ardor’ because we wanted something different and European,” explains Ilya. “Ardor means feelings of great warmth in French and we want customers to experience that feeling when they enter our café.”

Ardor Bakery and Coffee, 119 E. Sellers Ave., Ridley Park, is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; and 4-7 p.m. Sunday. Orders can be called up in advance for collection. For more information, follow Ardor Bakery and Coffee on Facebook, call 610-521-0450 or follow @ardour.bakeryandcoffee on Instagram.

Ilya and Raisa Zayarchenko, owners of Ardor Bakery and Coffee, enjoy a quiet moment in their new coffee shop. The couple have traveled extensively around Europe, visiting small cafes and dreaming of the day when they could open their own. Her dream came true this month. (PEG DEGRASSA/ MediaNews Group)

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