By Paula Roy –
The recipe for a successful bakery and coffee shop might read as follows: in a hip neighbourhood, combine three friends with a passion for food. Add in equal parts of energy, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit and blend well. It’s a tricky formula, but one that has been carefully implemented by Ghummaz Bhatti, Veda Rajole, and Aditya Budhiraja, co-owners of the new Les Moulins La Fayette which opened at 1000 Wellington St. W. in late June.
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The partners say their bakery dreams were launched after tasting an unforgettable almond croissant at a Les Moulins La Fayette location in Montreal. Founded in 1994 in St. Sauveur by Johnny Jeulin, a fifth-generation chocolatier and pastry chef from France, the company boasts eighteen locations in Montreal and one in Miami.
“We approached them about acquiring a license for Ottawa and then an eight month search led us to this space in Hintonburg, which we felt would be perfect as our business model was definitely based on being located in a vibrant, up-and-coming community that is supportive of local stores and restaurants,” explains Aditya.
As Les Moulins’ twentieth location, the owners are proud that they are able to put their own spin on the operation, rather than just being a cookie-cutter franchise (pun intended). They’ve created a chic, industrial space with décor that keeps the focus on the food and drink. They’ve also incorporated loads of local touches, including furniture and fixtures from Maker House and Blue Peaches plus handmade espresso cups by local potter Steffi Acevedo. Their beverage menu includes locally made cold pressed juices and kombucha.
They are excited to add as many local touches to their operation as possible, including artwork, and are planning constant refinements to their menu including the introduction of smoothies, vegan options, weekend brunch and, eventually, later opening hours plus dinner options. Catering is in the works, as is a weekend stall at the Parkdale Market to help generate awareness of their new business. They’ve also been working hard to forge connections with other local companies, sweetening the deal by dropping off croissants as part of their introduction.
For now, the owners remained focused on several key elements including their excellent coffee and tea, freshly baked in-house breads, pastries, Viennoiseries and cakes as well as great ‘grab and go’ savoury items. While many of the food and beverage offerings at Les Moulins are healthy, including crisp salads, wholesome quiches and sandwiches packed with fresh or roasted vegetables, there are some decadent options too. Their hazelnut chocolate mousse Palais Royale cake and their new chocolate ganache mochalatte are two particularly tempting treats.
Theirs is certainly not the only bakery or coffee shop in the Kitchissippi area, yet the owners are confident there is ample room in the marketplace, particularly since exposure to quality baked goods has helped cultivate more discerning customers.
“Based on our observations, each bakery and coffee shop in the area has its own niche,” explains Veda.
“It took many months of hard work to get the shop open but being here now is a dream come true. Despite the exhaustion we are exhilarated, and the compliments we get from customers every day makes all the effort feel so worthwhile,” adds Ghummaz. “We are already hatching plans for additional locations and like to describe ourselves as serial entrepreneurs in the making.”