When Swedish bakery Fabrique opened in the Meatpacking district in Manhattan in May 2019, New York Times food writer Florence Fabricant raved about it. She compared its cardamom buns to chef Dominique Ansel’s famous cronut, which took the city by storm several years ago.
Fabrique went global long before it debuted in New York. It started 12 years ago in Stockholm and now has 19 locations there and six in London.
But can we expect more Fabriques to multiply in New York City and elsewhere?
At its 14th Street location on the border of Greenwich Village and a stone’s throw from a large Apple store, the bakery is situated in a long and narrow space with high ceilings. In the back are the ovens, and customers can peer in and see their bread and pastries being baked.
Besides its famed cardamom bun, which this reporter tried and can say was delicious, if not a big overly sweet to his tastes, it also sells cinnamon buns, raspberry jam cakes, and its signature rye breads. It also serves strong European coffee.
Customer feedback on Yelp was almost all about—you guessed it—the cardamom buns and how delectable they were. “I used to have to travel to Stockholm and now they’re on 14th Street” read one comment. Another said, “The buns are crispy on the outside but soft and chewy and fluffy on the inside.”
Fabrique is owned by its founders, the husband and wife team of Charlotta and David Zetterstrom. They have self-funded each expansion and not sought any outside funding. None is franchised.
Here’s what Charlotta and David Zetterstrom said in a telephone interview from Stockholm about opening Fabrique in New York.
Why open in New York?
David: We had this dream since the company started of growing it into other cities. And New York was at the top of our list. We loved the vibe from the city. I lived there as an exchange student for six months and fell in love with the city. It’s just amazing.
From a business point of view, why did you want to expand to New York City?
Charlotta: We started in Stockholm and people were positive about our breads. The bread industry has been hurting since the second world war. People wanted to taste breads that were baked in a traditional sourdough way. We were successful in Stockholm with traditional breads, then we opened in London in 2012, and people were open-minded and loved the bread. If people in Sweden and London loved it, then we hoped that New York would love it too. It’s not only the buns that people love; it’s also the breads. Clients tell us, ‘This is how bread used to taste when I was a child. It’s real rye bread.’
Several European bakeries like Maison Kayser have found success in New York. On what basis will you open other Fabriques?
David: We want to wait a bit then we can take the next step. We’d like to open more but first settle down and learn the system and what the customers are liking. Right now they really like our breads, but we want to become more familiar with the city.
So you’d like to open a second location?
David: We absolutely want to open a second one in New York. But it’s about being able to find the right place and right neighborhood.
Any thoughts of franchising or accepting private equity funding to expand?
David: No, we haven’t.
Charlotta: It’s a family business. We started when we were young, and we are doing everything by ourselves.
What adjustments did you have to make in New York?
Charlotta: When we opened the bakery in New York, it took us one month to find the right flour. We are really like bread nerds when we decide on flour. We were looking for 100% wheat flour.
Did you introduce any new products to appeal to New Yorkers?
David: None really. We want to have the same tastes as we do in London and Sweden. Our customers want that. That’s the hard thing. The flour isn’t exactly the same in different countries.
Any chance of extending products beyond baked goods to sandwiches?
David: We want to keep the neighborhood bakery feeling. You don’t want to extend it too much. Sandwiches, you don’t find in the bakery. We want it to be a traditional artisan bakery.
Charlotta: We’re not good at doing sandwiches. We’re good at baking and making bread.
When I ate there, it looked as if it was mostly tourists who were your customers, correct?
Charlotta: No, we’re attracting many locals. In the beginning, people pass by, and go inside, and hopefully they love it, and they come back. That’s why we have a lot of locals who pass by all the time. That’s our kind of marketing. And people start to write about us.
Why did you choose to open in the Meatpacking district in Greenwich Village?
Charlotta: We looked at several locations but fell in love with the space. We had the bakery in the back. We wanted it to be transparent so people could see how we bake.
Rents are pricey in this area, and you’re charging about $8 for a bun and coffee. How sustain the rents?
David: We have a large amount of bread that we sell every day. We need to have a lot of customers every day.
What makes the cardamom bun special?
Charlotta: It’s a lot of butter, and the cardamom is specially grounded, and the combination of butter and cardamom and good flour make it special.
Many Americans are shying away from sweets so why specialize in that area?
Charlotta: We have fewer ingredients, such as eggs and better. People in New York look for fewer ingredients. But the buns are only 20% of our sales; breads make up most of the rest.
Describe the future for Fabrique in the next two years.
Charlotta: We hope to have a couple of more locations in New York City, and maybe a couple more in London. We are financing every new opening. We had a good year in 2019, so we’d like to have two more locations in New York in the next few years.
Source: Thanks https://www.forbes.com/sites/garystern/2020/01/07/fabrique-the-swedish-bakery-opens-in-new-york-city-will-there-be-more/