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I apologize if there is another, more appropriate thread for this topic, but I couldn't find anything.  We love the small, local, family-owned bakeries in our area.  Mr. Kim heard about this one:

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It is a long-running pop up in an older neighborhood on the other side of town.  We got there kind of late on Saturday, so their inventory was a little low.  We are looking forward to going back again - earlier in the day.  

 

Oatmeal cream cooky:

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Beautiful version – the cream was so delicious: it dissolved nicely and didn’t leave that shortening slick on the tongue like so many versions do.

 

Cinnamon roll:

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(Heated up in the CSO on bake/steam).  Tender and not overly sweet.  They let the icing provide most of the sweetening.

 

Snickerdoodle whoopie pie:

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Same kind of REAL-tasting cream as the oatmeal cooky cream.

 

Ginger-molasses cooky:

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Exceptionally soft and tender.  Could have been chewier, but the flavor was wonderful. 

 

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We are very fortunate to have a small bakery named Réunion in Staunton, Virginia. Owner Bryan Hollar produces an ever-increasing number of luscious items in a very small space.  The quiche is the best I have ever eaten.

 

reunion7.thumb.jpg.819ea9ce6f950bc6bdd5a3a4128f4282.jpg

 

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The ever-popular almond croissant

 

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A pumpkin custard cruffin topped with a Speculoos cookie (a flavor combination that I am going to borrow for Christmas chocolates this year).

 

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@Jim D.  Oh my - you are lucky. Is it all take out or is it a place one can linger with coffee?  I had a pipedream of a Viennese style coffee house once but not in this city. It needs architectural backdrop.

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11 minutes ago, heidih said:

@Jim D.  Oh my - you are lucky. Is it all take out or is it a place one can linger with coffee?  I had a pipedream of a Viennese style coffee house once but not in this city. It needs architectural backdrop.

 

Yes, lucky...except that it is all too tempting.  Before COVID it was a great place to linger, very tastefully decorated, very welcoming.  It also specializes in espresso.  At the beginning of the pandemic, the bakery offered delivery only, so people placed orders during the week, and on Saturday morning, they had pastries at their front door.  I'm not sure how the owner made this work financially (distances were up to 35 miles), but he did.  Now it's open on weekends with takeout only, and is flourishing.  When I went downtown to deliver some of my chocolates to a shop nearby, the area in front of Réunion was like a parking lot and there was a line down the sidewalk from the bakery.  We also have the historical backdrop--an old small Shenandoah Valley city with interesting downtown buildings preserved by law.  It was a tourist draw until COVID, but people are working to keep it going for the future.

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On 10/17/2020 at 3:05 PM, Jim D. said:

We are very fortunate to have a small bakery named Réunion in Staunton, Virginia. Owner Bryan Hollar produces an ever-increasing number of luscious items in a very small space.  The quiche is the best I have ever eaten.

 

reunion7.thumb.jpg.819ea9ce6f950bc6bdd5a3a4128f4282.jpg

 

reunion5.thumb.jpg.91f88425e9481f42d80e3f2f2329d611.jpg

The ever-popular almond croissant

 

reunion6.jpg.bddc88a1af14882100e8596bea5d97a6.jpg

A pumpkin custard cruffin topped with a Speculoos cookie (a flavor combination that I am going to borrow for Christmas chocolates this year).

 

reunion2.thumb.jpg.75a467c64c5473ff77bd0a1ec982fc9c.jpg

 

reunion3.thumb.jpg.08f489c183db31ccb7425e163ce4e18e.jpg

 

reunion9.jpg.1a98ecf03e4a27f768598e9edaca15ab.jpg

 

reunion10.jpg.146d40d967a7af9ed92c1949b4bf9e69.jpg

Wow, @Jim D.!  I had no idea that Staunton had such a fantastic bakery.  Though I did know about The Shack and am hoping to go when things get better.  We are in the Richmond area, but lived in Charlottesville from 1987-1989 while Mr. Kim was in grad school.  I worked for a private social service agency in the USDA reimbursement program for day care homes.  I inspected homes in the Staunton/Waynesboro/Charlottesville area.  I am quite sure that there was nothing like Réunion in those days!  Though, I did have many delicious cheeseburgers, onion rings, and milkshakes at Wright's.  Our nephew in law is from Staunton and we have a date with him and our niece for a day in Staunton - breakfast at Réunion, lunch at Wright's and dinner at The Shack.  Thanks so much for making me aware of this place!

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12 minutes ago, Kim Shook said:

Wow, @Jim D.!  I had no idea that Staunton had such a fantastic bakery.  Though I did know about The Shack and am hoping to go when things get better.  We are in the Richmond area, but lived in Charlottesville from 1987-1989 while Mr. Kim was in grad school.  I worked for a private social service agency in the USDA reimbursement program for day care homes.  I inspected homes in the Staunton/Waynesboro/Charlottesville area.  I am quite sure that there was nothing like Réunion in those days!  Though, I did have many delicious cheeseburgers, onion rings, and milkshakes at Wright's.  Our nephew in law is from Staunton and we have a date with him and our niece for a day in Staunton - breakfast at Réunion, lunch at Wright's and dinner at The Shack.  Thanks so much for making me aware of this place!

I hope you will enjoy your day here--if we ever get to the point where such trips make sense again.  Réunion has been open only a few years.  Another bakery and woodfired pizza place, Newtown Baking, is also worth looking at.  And another restaurant worth seeking out is Zynodoa, just down the street from The Shack.  Zynodoa is where my chocolates are on the menu.  I grew up eating at Wright's Dairy Rite, and it's still flourishing.  And across the street from me is Giancarlo's, run by an Italian pastry chef whose work equals anything I have seen elsewhere. 

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On 10/17/2020 at 9:05 PM, Jim D. said:

We are very fortunate to have a small bakery named Réunion in Staunton, Virginia. Owner Bryan Hollar produces an ever-increasing number of luscious items in a very small space.  The quiche is the best I have ever eaten.

 

reunion7.thumb.jpg.819ea9ce6f950bc6bdd5a3a4128f4282.jpg

 

reunion5.thumb.jpg.91f88425e9481f42d80e3f2f2329d611.jpg

The ever-popular almond croissant

 

reunion6.jpg.bddc88a1af14882100e8596bea5d97a6.jpg

A pumpkin custard cruffin topped with a Speculoos cookie (a flavor combination that I am going to borrow for Christmas chocolates this year).

 

reunion2.thumb.jpg.75a467c64c5473ff77bd0a1ec982fc9c.jpg

 

reunion3.thumb.jpg.08f489c183db31ccb7425e163ce4e18e.jpg

 

reunion9.jpg.1a98ecf03e4a27f768598e9edaca15ab.jpg

 

reunion10.jpg.146d40d967a7af9ed92c1949b4bf9e69.jpg

 

Those do look good, but the prices are staggering. Are these normal prices, or have they had to hike them up to survive the pandemic?

 

I imagine these are pre-tax, pre-tip too 😬

 

(For context, at Ladurée or similar, a pain au chocolat is generally €1.80 or so. Neighbourhood bakeries sell them €1.00-1.20, tax included)

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2 hours ago, jmacnaughtan said:

 

Those do look good, but the prices are staggering. Are these normal prices, or have they had to hike them up to survive the pandemic?

 

I imagine these are pre-tax, pre-tip too 😬

 

(For context, at Ladurée or similar, a pain au chocolat is generally €1.80 or so. Neighbourhood bakeries sell them €1.00-1.20, tax included)

 

There is no way you can actually compare baked goods' prices in Paris with prices even in places like Staunton, VA. I'm paying $5 for a damn baguette!

 

In addition to our prices being more baked than prices in Paris, our breads and pastries tend to be (more baked) too.

 

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I have a good friend who spent a good part of last year working/living in Paris. She never stops complaining/comparing (and who am I to complain about a complainer?) about our baked goods. And NYC has some decent baked goods....it's all relative, no?

 

 

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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3 hours ago, jmacnaughtan said:

 

Those do look good, but the prices are staggering. Are these normal prices, or have they had to hike them up to survive the pandemic?

 

I imagine these are pre-tax, pre-tip too 😬

 

(For context, at Ladurée or similar, a pain au chocolat is generally €1.80 or so. Neighbourhood bakeries sell them €1.00-1.20, tax included)

 

As I was scrolling down this page (before I saw your comment) I thought to myself, "I wonder how Bryan manages to produce those items for that low a price."  So I was surprised by your comment.  A "prosecco poached pear galette with hazelnut cream, raspberry crumb, and roasted hazelnut" for $4.50 does not seem out of line at all to me.  Yes, the prices are higher than grocery store pastries, but not considering the ingredients he uses and the skills he possesses.  Have you shopped in the U.S. recently?  I am more familiar with chocolate pricing, and $2 for a small one-bite bonbon is more or less the norm, and $3 is not all that unusual. 

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1 hour ago, Jim D. said:

 

As I was scrolling down this page (before I saw your comment) I thought to myself, "I wonder how Bryan manages to produce those items for that low a price."  So I was surprised by your comment.  A "prosecco poached pear galette with hazelnut cream, raspberry crumb, and roasted hazelnut" for $4.50 does not seem out of line at all to me.  Yes, the prices are higher than grocery store pastries, but not considering the ingredients he uses and the skills he possesses.  Have you shopped in the U.S. recently?  I am more familiar with chocolate pricing, and $2 for a small one-bite bonbon is more or less the norm, and $3 is not all that unusual. 

 

The elaborate pastries weren't the ones that caught my attention - it's more the pain au chocolat, plain croissant and cannelé for 3$ and up that I find extortionate. Given the ingredient costs (and labour and rental costs, which are almost certainly lower than they are here), they must be making a spectacular margin on those.

 

If there are people willing to pay that, then great! But it still surprises me.

 

And I am curious - are those prices pre-tax, and do you tip in these places?

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The first time I walked into Reunion, I think the prices made me walk back out again.  I think I was looking for an alternative to a McDonald's egg sandwich.  I was not expecting a place like Reunion in Staunton (Now I know better!). But I think the two perspectives that each of you gives probably answer how they make it work.  The steeply priced croissants probably fund the underpriced fancier pastries.

 

On another note, The Shack has opened a shack sized gourmet grocery in the building next door.  The are using Reunion bread for sandwiches and selling loaves as well.

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2 hours ago, jmacnaughtan said:

 

And I am curious - are those prices pre-tax, and do you tip in these places?

 

The prices are pre-tax, which is 2.5% in this state.  Tipping is provided as an option when one is paying by credit card.  Various percentages are displayed, along with the option to select "no tip." In recent years tipping at places where there is no table service has become widespread in the U.S.  There are restaurants rebelling against tipping by following the European model of simply adding it to the bill and paying their workers a decent wage, but those are few and far between.

 

I know someone from Europe on eGullet who asked me about prices of chocolates in the U.S., and he was surprised at the result of my survey.  I recommended that he move here, open a chocolate shop, and get rich. 😄  But many of us who are producers are paying the cost of often importing many of our ingredients:  chocolate, hazelnut and pistachio pastes, fruit purées, etc.  Réunion uses Valrhona chocolate products, often $20-25 per kilo even at wholesale prices.

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I thought the Réunion prices looked great!  

The 2 local bakeries that I visit most often,  Café Ficelle, in Ventura and Roan Mills in Fillmore, charge $4.25 and $5.00, respectively for a plain croissant, 4.95 and 5.00 for a pain au chocolat, 4.75 and 4.00 for a baguette.

 

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2 minutes ago, blue_dolphin said:

I thought the Réunion prices looked great!  

The 2 local bakeries that I visit most often,  Café Ficelle, in Ventura and Roan Mills in Fillmore, charge $4.25 and $5.00, respectively for a plain croissant, 4.95 and 5.00 for a pain au chocolat, 4.75 and 4.00 for a baguette.

 

 

Yes what I see down here for good stuff. On the tax though - we don't get taxed on take-out right? Just on eat-in?

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The prices seem OK to me (Réunion), for what you're getting. Not something I could afford every day, but I would definitely try to support a place like that. That prosecco poached pear galette with hazelnut cream, raspberry crumb, and roasted hazelnut for $4.50 is what I'd eat there. Looks like a kouign amman.

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Thanks for opening this thread, it's really interesting and I hope more people will chime in with many more photos. Unfortunately I don't have a camera (I can't stand smartphones), otherwise I would post what is available here.


Those viennoiseries by Reunion look great, I can count on my hand the places here that sell stuff of that quality. With "here" I mean a radius of about 30 km.


Some considerations about prices. As I read them I had a similar reaction, thinking they were really high. But the whole market is really different. Those viennoiseries are much bigger than the ones on sale here. The ones in the photos are well above the 100 g mark, I would say they are near the 150 g mark (maybe someone can give some exact weights). Here a croissant weighs around 50 g. Filled viennoiseries (most people eat their croissants / Italian brioches filled with pastry cream or apricot jam) can reach around 70 g, it's really really rare to find something bigger. So much rare that in the last 10 years people started requesting small versions (about 25 g for the empty ones) for "dietary reasons". Breakfast here is totally different than in the USA, the typical breakfast is coffee/cappuccino plus croissant/brioche, It's something consumed every day, while, from what I read, eating a viennoiserie in the USA is seen as once in a while, not an everyday breakfast item.
Besides this, here in Italy viennoiseries are considered a money looser. I'm talking about quality pastry shops, who make their own viennoiseries (most buy the industrial ones) using quality ingredients. Prices range from around 1.10 euro to 1.50 euro for each piece. The most expensive places went from 1.10 euro in 2015 to 1.50 euro in 2019, quite a rise in a small timeframe. So on average the price ranges in the 18-25 euro/kg zone, which is pretty low for an artisan product. People keep these prices to attract customers: you need a wide base of customers to stay in business, so you need as many people coming for breakfast as you can. You don't make profit from viennoiseries, you make profit from coffee and cappuccino and from the other items. Viennoiseries are seen mostly like a bait, to get as many people as you can to come for breakfast and become regulars.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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5 hours ago, jmacnaughtan said:

 

The elaborate pastries weren't the ones that caught my attention - it's more the pain au chocolat, plain croissant and cannelé for 3$ and up that I find extortionate. Given the ingredient costs (and labour and rental costs, which are almost certainly lower than they are here), they must be making a spectacular margin on those.

 

But it still surprises me.

 

 

The thing surprising me the most is that people actually want to open backbreaking businesses such as bakeries, with the hopes that they may even make a meager profit.

 

How are labour (sic) and rental costs lower here in NYC or in SoCal than they are where you are? 

 

1 hour ago, blue_dolphin said:

I thought the Réunion prices looked great!  

The 2 local bakeries that I visit most often,  Café Ficelle, in Ventura and Roan Mills in Fillmore, charge $4.25 and $5.00, respectively for a plain croissant, 4.95 and 5.00 for a pain au chocolat, 4.75 and 4.00 for a baguette.

 

 

Yes, about what I pay. Before tip. Different strokes, right?!

 

To expand a little bit, many of these newer places here in NYC are all about the "artisinal flour" this, "grinding in house" that, etc. etc. 

 

To whit:


 

Quote

 

Mel thoughtfully sources  grain from organic local and regional farms.

. All our rye flour is milled fresh in house

 

 

That shit costs money. Be it in time or in funds.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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18 hours ago, Kim Shook said:

Our nephew in law is from Staunton and we have a date with him and our niece for a day in Staunton - breakfast at Réunion, lunch at Wright's and dinner at The Shack.

 

You must put Jim's chocolates on top of your priority!

 

 

 

18 hours ago, Kim Shook said:

lived in Charlottesville from 1987-1989 while Mr. Kim was in grad school

 

18 hours ago, Jim D. said:

And across the street from me is Giancarlo's, run by an Italian pastry chef whose work equals anything I have seen elsewhere. 

 

From the Giancarlo's biography:

"In 1987, he and his wife, Jane, opened Cafe' Giancarlo and Fine Pastries for five years on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville."

Quite the coincidence!

 

 

 

Teo

 

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1 hour ago, teonzo said:

Those viennoiseries are much bigger than the ones on sale here. The ones in the photos are well above the 100 g mark, I would say they are near the 150 g mark (maybe someone can give some exact weights).

 

 

I was going to point out that fact.  Any place I have taken them as a gift, e.g., for breakfast, no one has ever eaten a whole one.  They are generally accompanied by a sharp knife for dividing them.

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1 hour ago, teonzo said:

 

You must put Jim's chocolates on top of your priority!

 

 

Thanks for the plug.  I will happy to give a box to @Kim Shook, who has given so much to eGullet over the years, when she makes her Staunton trip.

 

And as for you, @teonzo, when are you planning to open your pastry shop in the U.S.?  I would suggest a location not too close to Staunton...especially if you make chocolates!

 

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11 hours ago, weinoo said:

 

The thing surprising me the most is that people actually want to open backbreaking businesses such as bakeries, with the hopes that they may even make a meager profit.

 

How are labour (sic) and rental costs lower here in NYC or in SoCal than they are where you are? 

 

Maybe not NYC, but the bakery is in Virginia.

 

Skilled bakers cost a lot of money to employ here, and the social security contributions that the company pays the state pretty much equal the salary. Add to this the fact that Paris rental prices are extremely high... Even at the €1-2 mark however, bread and pastries are the most profitable items in bakeries, generally because they can be easily made en masse. The losses generally come from the more elaborate cakes.

 

Also, what's your problem with British English?

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5 hours ago, jmacnaughtan said:

 

Maybe not NYC, but the bakery is in Virginia.

 

Skilled bakers cost a lot of money to employ here, and the social security contributions that the company pays the state pretty much equal the salary. Add to this the fact that Paris rental prices are extremely high... Even at the €1-2 mark however, bread and pastries are the most profitable items in bakeries, generally because they can be easily made en masse. The losses generally come from the more elaborate cakes.

 

Also, what's your problem with British English?

 

I'm trying to learn a new language.

 

And here's what we know about baguettes in Paris...

 

Quote

But while there are few symbols as quintessentially French as the baguette, its status – and quality – have been uncertain in recent years. Beginning in the 1950s, bakers began looking for shortcuts to make baguettes more quickly: relying on frozen, pre-made dough; and baking baguettes in moulds rather than free form. Instead of the crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside loaves that M’Seddi bakes every morning, these pale, doughy baguettes became stale almost the moment they cooled down. By the 1990s, they had become the norm for bakers and Parisians.

 

Making bread en masse is certainly not what's happening at the bakeries shown above.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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3 minutes ago, weinoo said:

Making bread en masse is certainly not what's happening at the bakeries shown above.

 

Sure it is. Each batch of baguette dough generally uses around 25kg of flour (often more), which is mixed by machine before being shaped, generally by hand. When you consider that a baguette normally weighs around 200g, that's a lot of loaves.

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