The smell of fresh pastries, cakes and coffee are the first things you’ll notice when you walk into La Patisserie. The display cases are filled with delightful croissants, fruitcakes, cookies, and breads of all different variety. The owner, Stephen Pazyra took a few minutes to talk to Winchester Patch about owning a European bakery, making everything from scratch and shipping their goods all over the country.
How long has the bakery been here?
30 years this month
How did you start out as a baker?
Started with a small store a fraction of the size of the bakery. It was only 400 square feet; we went from 400 square feet to 3,500 square feet about 17 years ago.
Started in restaurants, managed restaurants. One of the restaurant businesses had a bakery in it and I learned from them. We bought this place from an Austrian man who owned this place 30 years ago.
How has Winchester changed in the 30 years?
The stores have changed a lot. We’re probably one of the older businesses in Winchester right now. The community is still the same. It’s a great community to have a bakery in because they appreciate quality, which is what we do. We make everything from scratch. A lot of people don’t know this: Even our croissants are handmade. Most places sell frozen croissants and bake it off. Croissants take three days to make.
Absolutely. You have to mix it one day, then you have to let it rest. You have to roll it and fold it and then the third day, you roll it out in the triangles, and pouf it. It’s a long process, but people appreciate quality.
Even during the recession, people would say, “Hasn’t this recession hurt you?” and the answer is no, because of the fact that if you’re going to spend money, you want something that’s good compared to something that’s junk. If you’re going to spend your money, you might as well spend it on something that you’ll enjoy.
This is mostly a French style bakery?
It’s mostly European style. That came from the original owner, who taught me how to make the pastries, croissants and the strudels. But we’ve added cupcakes and a few other American items, but I think the European aspect is the idea of the quality of the product.
What’s the normal day in the life of a bakery owner?
That is one thing that has changed. My wife and I used to come in a 3 a.m. and do all the mixing, baking, and all that. She does the cakes and still does, but with help now. My job has changed from more hands-on to management. We have a staff now of four bakers and a sales staff of eight people. So my job has become more of ordering, keeping the quality control and managing the schedule. I sometimes miss the hands-on work.
About six or seven years ago, we saw the opportunity to expand because of the Internet. So we ship a lot of our cakes all over the country. We ship cakes and croissants everywhere in the U.S. We ship birthday cakes to California, Texas, and Florida. We’ve developed it so the cake can be made, frozen, then packed in a special Styrofoam container with icepacks and shipped. And that helps us a lot because it’s very difficult for a small business to survive these days. We have 10 percent of our business coming from orders from India. They order a birthday cake for a relative in the U.S. through us. That has helped us keep our prices reasonable.
I think the people of Winchester want to support local businesses, which is really nice.