As Thanksgiving Approaches, We’re Thankful for Bakery Lorraine

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Bigger than ever inside the 2,500 square-foot space - COURTESY
Bigger than ever inside the 2,500 square-foot space
New location, new menu items - COURTESY
New location, new menu items

The expansion is filled to the brim with baking equipment, and work is split into three shifts—Ng and a small staff handle pastries in the mornings, Mandrell and another baker handle breads into the evenings, and an overnight crew takes care of the rest. Aside from producing several thousand French macarons for the shop, Bakery Lorraine's commissary also handles wholesale production, which includes pastries and breads for Local Coffee, Rosella Coffee Co., Halcyon, Twin Sisters, Justin's Ice Cream and Nordstrom Ebar. Breads for The Monterey and dough for Barbaro are also produced.

When the Pearl began courting Bakery Lorraine to join their booming culinary playground, Biedenharn saw it as an opportunity and the next logical step, but the space needed to be right.

"When you look at reviews online, one of the main points was the house," Mandrell said. "People loved the house ... they felt like they'd found something off the beaten path. The hardest part for us was looking at this cement, steel, glass structure and figuring how to translate Grayson to this."

Ng credits selecting the right materials in helping bring over the charm of the Grayson house to the new location. The Pearl provided longleaf pine from the old brewhouse, which was turned into the main table in front of the kitchen. Tongue-and-groove cedar (roof beams in a former life) was used in creating the banquets. Aside from bringing over familiar art and outfitting the space with the help of designer Gregorio Mannino, the trio went on a "bakery crawl" in New York City to draw inspiration for the space.

"We had certain ideas, but we pivoted. We didn't want to lose the charm or be too modern," Biedenharn said.

The other major component in moving Bakery Lorraine was training the staff to handle the crowds and the bustle of a full-fledged cafe. To draw some perspective, before the move most Wednesday afternoons at the previous location were sleepy and it was easy to chat with staff members about their personal projects, the weather or any new favorite menu item. A visit to the new location at 2:30 p.m. on a recent hump day was anything but quiet.

"What we're stressing about now is making this the best experience for people ... when I come in on weekends, I'm more of a busser," Biedenharn said.

Training the staff to still imbue the vibe of a neighborhood joint while working on speedy service has been their biggest struggle.

"We want to set a new standard for pastries and for customer service in town. That's our goal," Mandrell said. "Other people will come in and do better pastry, but I want people to go, 'that's the cleanest kitchen, that's the best customer service.'"

Moving over to the Pearl has meant a beefed up menu that now includes daily sandwich specials, created by chef Andria Jones and sous David Rizo, chicken pot pie, more salads and soups. In an effort to keep up with production and settle into a groove with the new location, most experimenting has been put on hold...for now. After all, San Antonio palates are still expanding.

"We have lots of things shelved that we want to try," Mandrell said.

Until then, Bakery Lorraine is ironing out the kinks, cranking out boxed lunches, fresh pop tarts, more macs than we can count and introducing new flavors to the public (like the beeswax-coated two-bite canelés, sweet, buttery Kouign-amann or newly added moon pies), and navigating their busy season that often goes well beyond Mother's Day.

"For Anne and myself, we tend to geek out over the amount of holidays we're a part of," Mandrell said of the upcoming wave of Thanksgiving pie orders. "We love being part of peoples' lives in that way."

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