Pastry chef Bridget Thibeault opened her third Luna Bakery and Cafe at 1468 West 9th Street in downtown Cleveland on August 21. Those craving breakfast and lunch downtown will now have many of the same options available at the Luna locations at 2482 Fairmount Blvd. in Cleveland Heights and 34105 Chagrin Blvd. in Moreland Hills. The downtown location will be open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. and will focus on the business crowd.
“Today, on opening day, it started out slow but at lunch time it picked up,” Thibeault said. “I think there is something exciting about being in downtown Cleveland even though people say it ebbs and flows. I think a lot of people left during Covid but it’s going to come back – because it always does, and I want to be a part of that.”
The menu at the new location has some healthier options, including a new green bowl and salad made with butternut squash, kale, and tahini dressing. There are fewer pastries but, otherwise, there is not much difference from what is available at the Cleveland Heights and Moreland Hills locations. Customers will still be able to buy a variety of crepes, croissants, cookies, macarons, brownies, soups, salads, vegan bowls, hot and cold beverages, and other items that are made from scratch using all-natural ingredients.
For breakfast, Thibeault recommends adding anything to the local, fresh farm eggs, which come with toast and homemade jam. For lunch, she recommends the chicken pesto panini, which is the most popular menu item, and for an evening meal, the ham and cheese croissant with side salad or soup.
A ‘European’ vibe
Thibeault had reservations about opening downtown with so many people still working at home and not coming back into the office five days a week since Covid. She said she wasn’t thinking about opening a third location when Joe Kubic, founder and CEO of The Adcom Group, approached her with the idea to open in downtown Cleveland. But, after working through the numbers and considering the amenities available at the new building, “it just felt like the right next step, and I didn’t want to pass this opportunity up,” Thibeault said.
The downtown location has some similar color scheme and design elements as the other locations. Leslie DiNovi with OxBow Designs LLC was the lead architectural designer on the project. Derryl Strong, creative director for Adcom, was also involved. “He had amazing ideas, and I feel like it’s our prettiest location to date,” Thibeault said. “When people come into our store, they say it feels very European. And I want it to be cozy, where you can hang out, but also a cool fun place, not cookie cutter.”
Kubic was at the soft opening the week before the official opening and said, “Lots of people came out which supports our belief that the neighborhood could use this as a great amenity to the downtown lifestyle.”
Kubic foresees Adcom being a regular catering customer of Luna with the company bringing in clients and guests every week.
Path to entrepreneurship
Thibeault enjoyed cooking as a kid and says she’s always been creative, artsy, and crafty. While living in Chicago and working in advertising, she became bored with her job but got really good at baking cakes and cookies.
So, she enrolled in culinary school and immersed herself in cooking.
Thibeault then took a job working at a bakery and began making wedding cakes. With her advertising background, she made business cards and worked on packaging, which led to her running a business from her apartment. She then moved to New York and did food styling and recipe development for two years before being recruited back to Chicago to run a test kitchen.
After meeting her husband, she moved back to Cleveland to start a family. She worked as the pastry chef at Fire restaurant in the Shaker Square neighborhood, taught cooking classes, and did freelancing while continuing to build her business.
“I started looking into buying a bakery or opening a bakery, and when I was running the numbers, it was so hard to be profitable and make money,” Thibeault said.
But when Tatyana Rehn and John Emerman, founders of The Stone Oven Bakery Cafe in Cleveland Heights, found Thibeault’s website, they called her. They had an idea: a high-end pastry chef heads a French cafe serving crepes, coffee, and pastries.
“Our initial contact was heavy pastries and just a little food but when we opened the food took off,” Thibeault said. “Since I was already running my own business, I just brought over all the recipes that I had and added to them by developing recipes for sandwiches and salads.”
Counting on quality ingredients and service
Everything at Luna’s is all-natural and made from scratch. During Covid, the company opened a new production facility in Midtown and makes its cakes, sugar cookies, croissant dough, and other baked goods there.
“I never had a second thought about cooking from scratch because it’s healthy, and that’s how I want to eat,” Thibeault said. “All of our meals are all-natural, meaning no hormones or fake things being pumped in. We can’t go organic, because it’s too expensive. But there’s no cutting corners.”
Since opening the first Luna, Thibeault continues to get requests from customers to open in places like Mentor, Hudson, and Strongsville. But she says she has to build the right team around her before this can happen. Currently, the company is hiring at all three locations and is looking for people who are passionate about food and customer service.
“While we have great recipes, food, and pastries, at the end of the day, it’s all about the service,” Thibeault said. “It’s hard to ensure people have a great experience. When I receive or read a negative review, we try to make it right. We can’t always do that because it’s the nature of the business.”
For now, Thibeault is focused on finding efficiencies and adjusting to working in the new space. “As much as you can plan it out, you still have to work on it,” she said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the designer of the project. It’s been corrected to note that Leslie Dinovi with Oxbow Designs LLC was the lead architectural designer of Luna’s new downtown location.
Luna Bakery and Cafe’s new location is at 1468 West 9th Street and can be reached at (216) 279-9988. Its downtown hours are Monday – Friday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m., and it is closed on weekends. Visit www.lunabakerycafe.com to review the menu, place a takeout order, get help designing a cake, or purchase a gift card.
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