By Mick Dickinson, founder at BuzzedUp
Bristolians living within shouting distance of Gloucester Road just got lucky. A wonderful French patisserie – L’artisan – has opened at number 303. Now you get to enjoy genuine hand-made French cakes every day. Jealous, moi?
I popped in to L’artisan the other day to interview LyonnaisÂ ownersÂ Salima and Mohamed Garti. As we sat down to talk, I watched a line of customers gaze longingly at the mouth-watering tarts, eclairs, custard slices, and sponge cakes on display.
Trained in Lyon and London under some master bakers, chef Mohamed makes and bakes all the cakes from scratch.
“These are typical French cakes, made fresh every day. I start work very early, in fact it’s the middle of the night! In the morning, it is just the finishing of the cakes, and I have an assistant to help me with that.”
All the expertise, love and hard work is right there to see in the eye-popping array under glass at the counter. I asked Salima for some background about the business.
“We opened the doors just over month ago. We always wanted to run our own business. I suppose it’s about wanting to create something for ourselves, and to be successful. So far it’s been a lot of hard work, and we know we are just at the start of a journey. We need to build a reputation for the products and our service.”
It’s easy to see the L’artisan’s ‘point of difference’. I’m unaware of any other genuine French patisserie in Bristol.
I asked what planning was involved in the launch of a food business? Mohamed explained: “I got advice from old friends who’ve run businesses before. They suggested things I might need to consider, and how to avoid problems. Of course, I worked out all the costs involved, how much we’d need to get by while we built up the trade. It was extremely useful having someone to talk to about all this stuff.”
I had the good fortune to sample some of the treats on offer at L’artisan. For me there’s no doubt the freshly made cakes are in a different league to those you’ll find in a supermarket – or anywhere else.
The French chit-chat in the shop adds to its atmosphere, and I suspect will make it attractive to the many Bristol families who live in the area.Â So who are the customers?
“We get all sorts of people coming into the shop. In the streets round here there are lots of family homes, and that is reflected in our customers. We’ve been making birthday and wedding cakes for these families, which is lovely.
“We’re told there are plenty of students living nearby, but we haven’t seen many. Maybe when they start at college in October? Lots of people come in for a chat. Others come to work on laptops – we’ve got free wifi.”
People will be drawn to L’artisan for the French ambience – and of course the cakes. I hope a branch opens soon on my side of town.