Few things are as wonderfully delicious as a fresh pastry.
"I mean it's that little bit of joy, right," said Nat Stratton-Clarke, owner of Flora Bakehouse. "What is not more joyful than a fresh pastry out of the oven and a perfect coffee?"
Located in Beacon Hill, Flora Bakehouse features a menu of sweet and savory treats that focuses on seasonality, while also ensuring anyone who stops in can find something scrumptious to enjoy.
"We have gluten-free pastries. We have delicious vegan pastries. We also have delicious full-butter, full-flour croissants that just melt in your mouth. So, we really have something for everybody," said Stratton-Clarke.
In addition to Flora Bakehouse, Stratton-Clarke owns Cafe Flora, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary, and Floret, located in Sea-Tac Airport's Concourse A. He initially thought the Bakehouse would be a commissary space, a place to bake for his other restaurant, but the neighborhood had other ideas.
"The neighbors just kept knocking on the door. 'When can I get a muffin? When can I get a croissant? Can I get a coffee'. We were like, okay great, let's do it," explained Stratton-Clarke with a smile. "Honestly our first day, opening during COVID, I wasn't sure what was going to happen. [About 8 AM] I peeked by head around the corner and there were literally a hundred people in line. All the way down the block, around the corner. You couldn't help but tear up."
Now, folks from near and far continue to line up for a taste of Bakehouse favorites like the almond croissant, seasonal danish and, of course, the iconic vegan cinnamon roll. While the pastries are certainly the perfect way to start the day, Flora Bakehouse is designed to be an all-day hangout. The charming and spacious rooftop patio is an ideal spot to take a date or meet up with friends.
"We're so excited to open the roof deck. To have a place to take your pastries, have a great coffee, have a glass of wine in the afternoon, just take in the beautiful view of Mount Rainier. I think this neighborhood is such a beautiful place and I'm so excited the neighborhood gets to enjoy [the deck]," said Stratton-Clarke.
Downstairs, on street level, massive windows give passersby a glimpse into the bakery itself. It's a chance to watch head baker Lesley Pettigrew and her team in action.
"Having these big window meant even before we were open we got to know our neighbors," said Pettigrew. "When you make food you want to know who you're feeding it to and seeing people get excited about the food honestly makes it so much fun."
During our visit Pettigrew was working on a batch of unicorn horns. They're colorful, horn-shaped meringues that, as you might expect, are a big hit with kids.
"They just get so excited. Quite often you'll see a family walk by and on the way back the child is already eating the unicorn horn, has unicorn horn crumbs all over their face and they look so happy," said Pettigrew.
Yes, the pastries are certainly crowd pleasing, but at its core, Flora Bakehouse is more than just a bakery. It's a space where the community can come together.
"It's about having a place where everyone is welcome to come," said Stratton-Clarke. "That you can come, feel comfortable, feel like you're getting that little bit of rest, that little bit of joy in your day."