Boulangerie opens in Winnetka train station
Rachel Beaudry is pursuing her passion for freshly-baked bread with the opening of Cafe Fleurette in the WInnetka train station at Elm Street. | Geoff Scheerer~Sun-Times Media
OWNER: Rachel Beaudry, Glencoe resident
LOCATION: In Winnetka’s Elm Street train station.
SERVES: croissants, beignets, other fresh-baked breads and Intelligentsia coffee
Updated: September 7, 2012 2:57PM
Before this summer, Rachel Beaudry was a stay-at-home mom and school volunteer who just happened to have a passion for baguettes, brioches and other baked breads.
But the opening of Cafe Fleurette last week in Winnetka’s Elm Street train station marks a turn for Beaudry.
“It’s time to be a grownup again,” said the Glencoe mother of three teenagers, including one heading off to Sweet Briar College.
On weekdays, Beaudry rises about 3:30 a.m. to travel to her bakery vendor in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood so she can open for business at 6 a.m., when commuters begin arriving to catch the Metra trains. In addition to croissants, beignets and other delectables, she is ready with fresh pots of Intelligentsia coffee.
“My days as school library helper, homeroom mother and lunchroom volunteer are over,” said Beaudry, who considers her business a boulangerie, or shop where customers buy freshly-baked breads.
“What I was hoping for is that people would stop by in the morning for breakfast pastry and stop by in the afternoon for fresh-baked bread,” said Beaudry. “I have only been open a week and I have people who are coming in every day to get a loaf of fresh bread to take home.”
Beaudry’s foray into business capitalizes on her knowledge of French baking. Her husband, Jacquy Pfeiffer, owns the French Pastry School in Chicago. While studying pastry-making in Paris at the age of 15, Pfeiffer struck up a lifelong friendship with a fellow student, Pierre Zimmermann, who owns the new LaFournette bakery in Old Town with his family.
That’s where Beaudry purchases the bakery products for her counter operation, which opened July 30 in the newly-renovated Elm Street station.
“From what the commuters have told me, there was a gentleman who was only open for a couple of hours with prepackaged items and a pot of coffee. A nice gentlemen, everyone says,” said Beaudry.
That operation closed when the Village of Winnetka and the railroads started the renovation.
“When it was remodeled, we decided to actually carve out space that would have amenities from a health and sanitation standpoint, all those things that would be necessary to have a food purveyor in there,” said Michael D’Onofrio, Winnetka’s director of community development. “We put out a request for proposals from food vendors to see if somebody would be interested in opening a coffee shop. We got four to five responses and like cream, she rose to the top.”
Beaudry has been developing a following this summer at the Winnetka-Northfield Farmers’ Market, where customers come back in particular for the miche, a French sourdough bread.
One woman who’d lived in Paris dropped by Cafe Fleurette during a bicycle ride and purchased a beignet. Beaudry assured her she would appreciate the French authenticity.
“Five minutes later, she was back and said, ‘This is the real deal,’” recalled Beaudry.
D’Onofrio said the initial thought was to serve commuters using the Metra trains, but there also are potential customers employed in downtown shops and office buildings.
“If she is successful, she may decide to go into different space,” said D’Onofrio, noting the train station operation might serve as an incubator, allowing start-up vendors to break in without making a large capital investment.