Following the success of their first entirely gluten-free café and bakery in Santa Monica that opened in February 2020, Breadblok is branching out to the Eastside of Los Angeles with a new restaurant and retail location that opened in December. The opening of Breadblok Silver Lake ushers in the beginning of the company’s planned rollout across Los Angeles, which will also include new Venice and Beverly Hills locations.
Breadblok Silver Lake features a larger restaurant footprint than the Westside bakery and café and includes an outdoor patio and sitting area. Designed by Los Angeles-based company Commune Design, the restaurant follows the original location’s famous Cali-meets-South of France aesthetic celebrating the company’s French roots.
All Breadblok locations follow the same rotating seasonal menu of bakery and kitchen offerings including gluten-free breads, croissants, tartlets, donuts, scones, quiche, salads, sandwiches, organic jams, vegan milks, and more. Additionally, each will also have one exclusive menu item that is unique to that neighborhood.
Breadblok founders and sisters Chloé and Celine Charlier are experienced veterans of the gluten-free lifestyle. For three generations, the family has embraced gluten-free foods, and understanding the difficulty in finding high-quality, delicious gluten-free baked goods in the U.S. today, they set out to solve this dilemma with Breadblok.
“We’re thrilled to introduce additional locations in the Los Angeles area after the tremendous success we’ve had with our first café and bakery in Santa Monica,” remarks Chloé and Celine Charlier.
A new standard
Breadblok sets a new standard in gluten-free baking, using the finest, purest ingredients to make artisan breads, pastries and more that satisfy the needs of every health-conscious lifestyle. Bringing reimagined French stapes to the heart of Los Angeles, Breadblok features a delicious seasonal menu of gluten-free breads, croissants, and other baked goods, as well as a variety of products that ship nationwide.
For Chloe Charlier, the key factors to success included extensive research and development before entering into the market.
“From the start, I knew I wanted the product to be super clean. I know the importance and rarity of truly knowing what is in food nowadays, and therefore the value of brands and restaurants that are transparent about that,” she says. “We have built that trust within our customer base; they know we do not compromise on quality, taste, health, or cut corners in any way. Just as we are clear about what we don’t use, we are just as upfront about what we do.”
Chloe was born in Paris and grew up mostly in London. She spent a lot of time in France, as it was the meeting up point for her extended family. It was a central location to everyone who lived throughout the world.
“My earliest influences were my grandparents. My grandpa was diagnosed celiac before there were any gluten-free alternatives on the market,” she recalls. “This led our family to educate ourselves on the benefits of a gluten-free lifestyle and create our own gluten-free foods.”
Living throughout Europe was another huge influence for Charlier. She noticed that throughout all different cultures and countries, bread was always the centerpiece of every table, for each meal. Also, in Europe there is a bakery on every block, and the baked goods are made fresh from scratch every day.
“I wanted to bring that European feel and quality, with a gluten-free spin, for people who have missed those foods for so long,” she says. “My grandfather really noticed a difference in the way he felt when he began eating gluten-free; he felt amazing. He researched the benefits of a gluten-free lifestyle and spread that knowledge to his wife and children, who then that spread that lifestyle to their children. Growing up, I noticed the difference in how I felt when I would eat gluten-free.”
Also, as a child, there was never a negative feeling around the concept of eating gluten-free.She never felt like she was missing out on anything, because the food tasted just as good. That inspired her to bring that same quality and taste to the Los Angeles community.
“Chestnut bread in the in South of France is something I will always remember,” she recalls. “It is a staple down there; the taste is amazing. The bread also just happens to be inherently gluten-free. We always had chestnut bread as the centerpiece of every table and pared it with delicious cheeses.”
Move to Southern California
Charlier moved to Santa Monica in 2014 and initially was working in marketing. She recalls struggling to find any healthy gluten-free places to eat.
“I noticed many people in the city had the same problem with their own dietary restrictions as well – whether that was gluten-free, paleo, vegan, etc.,” she says. “There was just such a need for clean bread and baked goods. There was especially a lack of gluten-free health foods with European influence. I was craving the same pastries and breads I had enjoyed growing up.”
Now, rice flour is a great foundation for many of their baked goods; it is very versatile. They also use Psyllium husk often. It has a binding component, which is helpful when you are cooking without gluten. Also, great dairy – for example using European butter with a higher fat percentage – is a key component to their cooking. In general, they do not sacrifice on ingredients, and that has made a huge difference. They use only top-quality suppliers and components, and that has been a key to perfecting the recipes.
Of course, sourcing such ingredients is “very challenging,” she emphasizes. “As I just touched on, we are very choosy with our suppliers. We have a very rigorous and strict selection process. Quality of ingredients is very important to us, but we also have a large list of restrictions – for example beyond gluten we do not use any additives, preservatives, refined sugar, gum, or soy. It is difficult to find farmers that are like-minded, and when you do the costs can be very high. Sustainability is a priority of the business as well, and this standard is present in the suppliers we choose.”
The pandemic has made the supply chain even more difficult. It is extremely hard to keep up with demand, and prices are even higher, making the situation quite challenging.
The consumer response has been phenomenal on a daily basis, “they are our biggest cheerleaders,” she says. “The growth of Breadblok has been entirely organic and based on word of mouth. From the beginning, we have had customers come from hours out of town to purchase our baked good. It really is a community, a family, of people who love our product. We love hearing from customers who haven’t been able to eat a certain product in over a decade, that they finally can again because of us. The taste, also, is exactly the same – everything is just as good. They are just happy to find us.”
Breadblok plans to open three more stores in the next year – in Silverlake, Beverly Hills, and Venice. They have also expanded food and beverage options, which is really exciting.
“Not only are we a bakery, but we working to be on the LA food map, as one of the only places to get a delicious, clean, organic meal,” she exclaims. “Our goal is to expand deep throughout LA, and then look to the next city! We have so much demand all over America, we would love to fulfill that with more storefronts.”