Popular Whitefish bakery moves downtown
| July 21, 2019 2:00 AM
Fleur is blooming in downtown Whitefish. Even in the midst of a power outage an hour before closing time on Wednesday, a steady stream of customers poured into the bake shop’s new location on Central Avenue.
Fleur Bake Shop moved out of its original small shop on Spokane Avenue at the end of May. The need for a larger establishment was evident from the mix of first-time visitors wandering in and loyal patrons returning to relish in the new space.
“At our old location, we never got this kind of foot traffic,” pastry chef and shop owner Whitney Brien observed.
It’s easy to see how the central location in downtown Whitefish and French glass doors that open onto the sidewalk invite a heavy stream of pastry patrons.
Customer response for the “small batch shop” in its first few weeks since the move has been a welcome challenge. By 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, popular treats such as macaroons were long gone from Fleur’s display. Brien said they have had to make a lot of adjustments. For some products they’ve triple their weekly production.
“We’re still working out the kinks,” Brien said.
The Fleur team has expanded in just about every way with their new location. In addition to moving from their smaller space behind Lakestream Fly Shop, they have revamped their menu and more than tripled their staff.
In addition to their pastry staples, the larger appliances in their new kitchen have given them the opportunity to add savory options, including breads, small plates and steel-cut oats. They also teamed up with fellow small business Waxwing Coffee, because, as Brien aptly pointed out: “pastry and coffee is a dynamic duo.
“They’re another small local business, so it’s neat to support them,” she said.
Brien’s own small business has grown since the ovens started firing in April 2017, and by last September she knew Fleur was ready to expand. With the vision of a brighter, more open space, she reached out to the building owner of the former Red Caboose restaurant. “It’s the perfect size for something I envisioned growing into,” she said.
But achieving that vision took time and plenty of renovations.
“We essentially ripped down and changed the whole building,” Brien reported. They tore out the old barn wood and transformed the front of the building. They added ceiling height to create an airy, expanded storefront with indoor seating. It was important for Brien to establish a space Fleur could share with the community, because she noted there aren’t “a lot of sit-down areas downtown that aren’t a bar.”
The Michigan native considers downtown Whitefish an ideal location for Fleur to blossom. After going to college in Bozeman and attending The French Pastry School in Chicago, “I knew I wanted to move back to Montana,” she said.
Whitefish, in particular, is “an amazing place and a wonderful community,” and she said she noticed a need for a nicer pastry shop and a demand for wedding cakes in the area. So while she does have a number of future plans for the bake shop, another location elsewhere in the Flathead Valley isn’t one of them. “I think one location is the right way to go,” she said, emphasizing her connection to local farmers and loyal clientele.
When the busy summer season and the challenges of adjusting to the new space begin to settle, Brien hopes to host small parties, bridal showers, baking classes and more communal gatherings. “That’s something we missed out on in our other location,” Brien said.
Fleur Bake Shop is now located at 103 Central Avenue in Whitefish. Hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day.
Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 758-4459.