Have you tried Sadie Russo’s easy to follow brioche bread recipe? The recipe was shared on this site just a few days ago. Today, readers can learn about Sadie’s decision to leave her consultant job to become a bakery and cafe owner along with her husband, Randy. In the story, you can also get a sampling of their two eateries, La Patisserie Francaise in Arvada and Bonbons Café and Dessert Bar in Denver.
Interview With Sadie Russo
Sadie, what initiated your career change from being an environmental consultant to owner of La Patisserie Francaise, a French bakery in Arvada?
I took a cake decorating class with a friend as something fun to do. Then I started making cakes. Within no time, we were buying an extra fridge and storage racks for the cake decorating things. I entered a cake competition and fell in love.
Randy says I operate on smiles. Cakes are mostly done for happy events. I quickly realized that cake decorating was more satisfying than environmental consulting. After leaving my job as an environmental consultant, I decided to buy an established bakery. While doing a Craigslist search for miscellaneous cake decorating supplies, I noticed that La Patisserie Francaise was for sale. This was the perfect fit. It reminded us of the mom and pop bakeries from our Connecticut childhoods.
After taking over the bakery, did you add your personal style, or did you keep the original brand intact?
I try to keep as true to the original brand as possible. La Patisserie Francaise was originally created by Joseph Romero with the underlying concept: quality ingredients made from scratch. Randy and I are the fourth owners. After purchasing the bakery, we hired Joseph Sowetans to learn about the recipes. We still laminate our own croissant dough and puff dough in-house. These are simple concepts that make the difference in our products.
On some items, we have added our own touches. Cake decorating definitely is my flare. Plus, we have added cannoli and salted caramel truffles to our line. These items follow the original concept. We only use quality ingredients.
We believe in great customer service and also feel that it is important to be active members of the Arvada community. As food creators, we support the Arvada Community Table which provides food for the needy. We contribute food donation and support the organization’s fundraisers. I have been active in the Arvada Chamber of Commerce, including serving on their Board of Directors for several years. We also donate cakes to organizations like Icing Smiles.
What challenges did you face as new bakery owners?
One of our biggest challenges was being called “New.” La Patisserie has a 30 year history in Arvada with the original owner owning it for more than 20 years. I am the 4th owner. The term “New” made customers wary. They loved the traditional foods and were afraid I would alter their favorites.
How does your passion for quality food affect your creations?
Good food has to start with good quality. If you start with bad ingredients, it’s hard to get a great end product.
The price of quality ingredients has increased over the years. The cost of real vanilla extract has escalated as the habitat for vanilla plants has been damaged. We recently saw egg prices go up due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We do not buy a lesser quality item to lower the price because it would also lower our product quality.
Why did you decide to open a second restaurant?
I love a good dessert and I also love date night. We searched for a place offering dessert and one last drink to finish off the night. We came up empty handed. So we decided to create it!
How do your two locations differ?
La Patisserie Francaise is a wholesale and retail bakery. We make the pastries and sell them to the public as well as to coffee shops, restaurants, and caterers.
At Bonbons Café and Dessert Bar, we have a full bar with beer, wine, and classic cocktails. We serve burgers, sandwiches, daily hot specials, take and bake dinners, as well as desserts. To kick off our guests day, we also offer espresso drinks and coffee. During the COVID-19 Stay at Home orders, we adjusted our hours and menu to accommodate the neighborhood.
As Colorado businesses start to reopen, will La Patisserie Francaise or Bonbons Café and Desert Bar be implementing any new health and safety standards?
It’s an evolving process. We have implemented scheduled cleanings for all door handles, and are sanitizing the screens and counters after every customer. All staff wear masks and gloves while working. While the government requirements to reopen have yet to be established, we will follow all of the mandated rules. We will likely have to adjust table spacing.
Before the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, were you contemplating any changes?
Before COVID-19 hit, we were planning to launch a spring/summer drink menu and were working on overhauling our dinner menu. We were adding scheduled events such as Rock Band Night where old-school video gamers could get together and play Rock Band. Another new program was a watercolor painting class. We were looking forward to having some great nights on our patio too. For middle schoolers, we were preparing an art show which would expand the existing artwork displays.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share?
We appreciate the way that both communities have backed us. The Midtown community around Bonbons and the Arvada community have been super supportive. We could not have survived the first few months of the pandemic without them.
When Sandy isn’t trekking or writing in the Colorado, she is traveling. She has visited more than 40 countries and lived as an international teacher in Bangalore, India. Sandy’s award-winning book, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, is a resource for people contemplating an expat lifestyle and living outside their comfort zone.
Sandy’s lifestyle and travel experiences are frequently shared with international and domestic online sites and print media. She has contributed stories to Hemispheres, Destinations Magazine, KUHL’s Born in the Mountain blog, Grand Magazine, Wandering Educators, Golden Living, AARP, Hadassah magazine, Localliz, One Travel, Miles Away, Canadian Jewish News, Getting On Travel, Far and Wide, Colorado Parent, Traveler Confidential, Family Circle- Momster, and others.