By Paula Roy
A family-run bakery known for satisfying the sweet tooths of its customers from Kanata North and beyond is readying expansion plans after several years of phenomenal growth.
From its modest beginnings as a home-based business six years ago, La Maison du Kouign-Amann has developed a fervent following among loyal clientele who venture from all across the National Capital Region to Kanata North for its tasty French-inspired fare.
Co-owner Fran Jung, who runs the bakery with her husband, Geoff Brown, says she fell in love with baking as a teenager in the south of France. After several other careers, her passion paved the way for her first professional culinary venture, which was creating and selling her company’s signature pastries, called Kouign-Amann.
Jung concedes that she’s asked multiple times a day how it’s pronounced.
“It’s quite simple: ‘Queen Amann,’” she says with a laugh. These muffin-sized, flaky pastries boast layers of caramelized sugar and butter, plus an optional dollop of flavoured topping.
La Maison du Kouign-Amann’s first retail outlet was at the Carp Farmers’ Market. It was there that Jung and Brown learned how limiting selection could actually benefit their customers.
Originally, the couple offered their pastries in a multitude of flavours. However, their customers found the options too enticing and had trouble deciding, leading to slow-moving lineups. That led to Kouign-Amanns only being offered in plain, raspberry, lemon, Nutella and caramel varieties.
While the pastries are still sold at the Carp and Hazeldean farmers’ markets, La Maison du Kouign-Amann now has a permanent home at its Schneider Road bakery where it also sells cookies, sweet and savoury tarts, sandwiches and more to neighbouring tech workers as well as visiting customers from across the National Capital Region.
A storefront was never in the original plan, Jung concedes.
“I was fine with selling at the market and thought in the beginning that would be enough,” she recalls.
However, the business then agreed to supply several local coffee shops, which quickly ballooned to 20 across Ottawa, Gatineau and Montreal. This meant securing space for a commercial kitchen, and the owners figured they should use part of their new space for a small shop.
“I am so happy we made that choice,” Jung says. “We are enjoying it so much.”
When it came time to select a location, the couple says the choice in neighbourhoods was easy. They’d lived in Kanata North for more than a decade, and their early west-end successes at the Carp Farmers’ Market correctly gave them confidence that they’d receive a steady and strong volume of traffic.
Indeed, the business has grown by nearly 200 per cent since it was formally launched.
“We are constantly amazed when people from Orléans, Gatineau or even farther afield walk through our door and tell us they have heard we have exceptional pastries,” Jung says.
Brown notes that the continued residential growth and commercial diversification of Kanata North is benefiting their business, which recently launched a catering service to respond to demand from customers in the tech sector.
Jung and Brown have fast-tracked their expansion plans and are in the process of adding 1,000 square feet of space that will be used for an expanded seating area.
Jung notes that the bakery is a popular destination for cyclists and is also accessible in about 25 minutes from downtown via nearby Corkstown Road. They also welcome many weekend visitors out on drives through the nearby countryside.
“Our success here in Kanata North proves that if you offer a good product and good service, people will seek you out,” Jung says.