It started less than two years ago as a store front to a catering business. Revelstoke’s La Baguette now boasts three locations.
It’s late Sunday morning and the Canadian Freeskiing Championships finals have been postponed due to poor visibility. In downtown Revelstoke, several groups of visiting skiers roam a very quiet Mackenzie Avenue, looking for something to do.
Visitors to Revelstoke are often surprised that much of the town is closed on Sundays. They are not aware that much of what is open is a new development, part of a new wave of entrepreneurs filling a niche for visitors and locals alike. And the response has been fantastic.
Later on that day, I see one of the same groups of skiers walking over to lunch at La Baguette, only one of a handful of downtown establishments of its kind open for Sunday lunch.
La Baguette co-owners (and partners) Sonia Ratté and Olivier Dutil arrived in Revelstoke from Quebec about six years ago. Both are classically trained French chefs. They cut their teeth here in Revelstoke at the Woolsey Creek Cafe (he was head chef, she was sous chef) before deciding to go it on their own about two years ago.
“La Baguette was just a dream of mine,” Ratté tells me as we sit in the bakery at the back of the shop. She says their philosophy is to create “all the best things” using only the best.
Ratté, 27, is diminutive and thin. Her grey eyes beam out from underneath her low-brimmed hat. Her high-toned, French-accented voice rolls musically. Opening three locations in under two years means you’re busy. Add on bakers’ hours and you’re tired. Ratté almost always picks up the phone when I order lunch, and she’s always cheerful and energetic on the phone. “In ten minutes?” she remembers of my usual time to come pick it up.
Their fresh breads and pastas are made of the best ingredients they can find. The flours are organic; Ratté points out a specialty variety of salt from France used in their breads, for example.
The same goes for their selection of foods they serve and products they sell. Their gelato bar is always popular. (“Ice cream is good, but gelato is better,” says Ratté, continuing on the ‘only the best’ theme).
PHOTO: La Baguette chef and co-owner Sonia Ratté
And it’s all made in their bakery. The croissants, explains Ratté, take two days to make from scratch. “The best quality, and everything home-made,” Ratté says.
She uses La Baguette’s pannini sandwiches as another example. They keep them simple and focus on balance, preferring only a few ingredients.
They have a limited number of grocery items for sale, but they tend to be top of the line. The small selection of cheeses from boutique cheesemakers from France and Quebec (and are often very reasonable priced). The selection changes weekly, and it’s often worth looking for sales.
Their second location at gondola base was renovated and created in just a month and opened at the start of December.
Ratté says the decor was everything she wanted. The small interior at their downtown location limited their interior design options, but the open space in the new building at RMR allowed for more possibilities. Locally milled woods are prominent. The signature seats in the booths are made of used seatbelts – a trademark of artisan Trevor Kehler’s U.S.E.D. line.
Their menu is similar to their downtown offerings. It also has an expanded grocery section for residents in the area. They sell milk, butter, granola, antipasto, oils, teas, cheeses and other basic cooking ingredients.
Their third new location is at the top of the RMR gondola at Mackenzie Outpost. The small coffee hut has been redesigned and is now offering La Baguette classics. They offer some special menu items there, such as hearty burgers and chili.
The businesses’ roots are in the mountain trade. Their early mainstays were heli-skiing catering contracts. Ratté actually started in the commercial kitchen at the Revelstoke Community Centre. When they started, they had 10 employees; now they’re up to 30.
As we talk in the bakery, a tradesman is screwing together new shelving in their ever-expanding kitchen. Is La Baguette going to be expanding to the empty location right next door? Ratté said they’ve thought about it, but they’ve just been busy with everything else. Isn’t she worried someone else might rent it? She shrugs her shoulders. “Then it’s destiny,” she says.
What’s the key ingredient to their success? Be passionate, and be the best at what you do, Ratté tells me.
Oh, and why is La Baguette’s downtown location closed on Wednesdays of all days? Ratté says Sun Peaks has their downhill mountain biking course open late on Wednesdays. Lifestyle is a priority.
Don’t worry. Their locations at Revelstoke Mountain Resort will now be open Wednesdays.
La Baguette downtown is located at 103-607 Victoria Road, behind Cooper’s Foods (250-837-3755, 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.). La Baguette at Revelstoke Mountain Resort is about 30 metres from the base of the gondola (7 a.m. to 8 p.m. everyday). Mackenzie Outpost is at the top of the gondola and opens at about 9 a.m. until the gondola closes.