When Jonathan Przybyl (pictured) found out his favorite bread bakery was shutting down, he did what any loyal customer would do. He bought it.
“I was really distraught [the bakery was closing],” he recalls. “It had become a weekly tradition of ours to get Proof Bread, and I kind of tied it to my Polish roots, because this was the only kind of bread readily available that was like the bread you find in Poland.”
Przybyl’s original intention was to get a bread recipe from the owner, Jared Allen. “Instead of just getting a recipe, I came home from a meeting with Jared and asked my wife if we could buy the bakery,” he says. Maybe that’s not the route most people would take, but for Przybyl, it made sense. Even though at the time, his experience with bread was limited to eating it.
Pryzbyl purchased Proof from Allen in 2017. After getting his wife, Amanda Abou-Eid, on board, he spent the next two weeks learning how to bake sourdough bread and eventually moved the operation into their garage in Mesa.
“I originally positioned Proof as something that could just be added to our lives,” he says. “But Proof wasn’t just added to our lives — it took over our lives.”
Przybyl and Abou-Eid left their careers within the first year and focused all of their finances and energy on transforming Proof into a viable business. Przybyl went from working on a computer every day to learning how to mix, proof and bake 25 to 30 different items. “Our initial few years in the garage could not be characterized in any other way than ‘lunacy,’ ” Przybyl says. “We learned how to make bread [by] hand mixing for the first year and a half because we didn’t have a mixer.”
In the first year, the business lacked many of the crucial tools a bakery needs, such as a heavy-duty mixer and a large oven. Aside from the fact that they had electricity, Przybyl likens the early bread-making operation to that of a bakery in the 1600s. Eventually, the couple were able to invest in a commercial oven and get the equipment they needed to make production more efficient.
But that was just one hurdle. In 2020, the city of Mesa told the couple they needed to move Proof out of the garage and find a different location for their main operation. “In the middle of the pandemic, we had this big gut punch,” Przybyl says. “We were finally on our way, and even though we didn’t have intentions of staying in our ‘cottage kitchen’ setup forever, we were suddenly forced along.”
Luckily, Proof had gained traction in the community during the pandemic as people began learning to bake bread at home. Przybyl and his team started a YouTube channel with videos detailing how to make sourdough. “We found a worldwide audience,” Przybyl says. “So when we started building the downtown Mesa facility, we received a ton of public support in many different ways.”
Michael Jenkins, a regular customer, enjoys the bakery’s Danishes and raisin bread, but he says the reason he patronizes Proof is because the whole experience is pleasant. “The staff is very friendly and helpful,” he says. “And the bread and pastries are far above anything else I’ve tried.”
When Przybyl looks back at what it’s taken to go from a business that operated at a loss to one that employs nearly 30 people and churns out 3,000 loaves of bread a week, he credits a work ethic rooted in his and his wife’s immigrant roots and a cultural passion for connecting with their community through food. “Amanda and I both think food is a powerful medium of exchange,” he says. “Me being Polish, her being Lebanese, we love making food for people.”
The downtown Mesa location is now what Przybyl calls an interactive bakery. “You can sit across the baker’s bench from us, and our bakers are working on the other side,” he says. “If you come to the bakery, you can see the way that we actually produce the bread and watch us work.”
Proof is known for its sourdough bread, which comes in a variety of flavors, as well as its sourdough croissants, which are a rare find in most bakeries. Also, it’s one of the few places in the Valley to get a great loaf of olive bread.
In addition to the bakery in Mesa, Proof items can be purchased at four farmers markets across the Phoenix area or ordered for home delivery on certain days of the week.
125 W. Main Street