In the ten years since Vince Lalonde purchased Mount Bakery Café from its original owner, Olivier Vrambout, progress and quality have been constant at this much-loved Bellingham eatery – proven by two successful expansions.
Vince worked on and off for Olivier beginning in 2000. Focused on his art and self-described “bohemian” lifestyle, Vince watched Mount Bakery grow under Olivier’s management into a popular downtown destination with award-winning pastries, a varied menu and dedicated clientele.
A strong catalyst for change – marriage and fatherhood – drove Vince back to the bakery full-time, where Olivier quickly positioned him as a manager in the flourishing café.
A year later, Olivier decided to move back to his wife’s home town. Vince still remembers Olivier telling him his plans, finishing with: “I would only sell the Mount Bakery to you.”
Vince dove into business ownership with little experience outside of his year or so of managing the bakery – but he fully understood what made the bakery so successful: the atmosphere, its employees and the food.
Olivier’s original concept for the Mount Bakery focused on just that: being a phenomenal bakery. Over time, the business expanded to serve delicious lunch and breakfast options alongside traditional – exceptional! – baked goods. This change meant larger numbers of dine-in customers who came to enjoy fantastic food in the small, cozy, scent-filled space.
Continued, steady growth prompted Vince to make changes to accommodate the increasing crowds. After several years of eyeing retail possibilities around town, Vince pounced on an opening in Fairhaven in 2014 and created a second, smaller café. Today, that space has expanded even further, now duplicating the number of seats of the downtown Bellingham spot but with twice the total square footage.
At the Fairhaven Mount Bakery, you find the same peaceful, traditional café vibe and amazing baked goods and dishes as downtown. And with its exposed brick wall, unassuming exterior, and calm lighting, the Fairhaven location provides the same comforting and enticing ambience diners enjoy at the original location. Regulars rave that both make for perfect breakfast-lunch backdrops.
Vince knows his cafés would be nothing without the devoted, friendly staff members that have worked in them over the years. Vince began with a dozen employees; now, his two locations employ roughly 30, including a dedicated management staff that assists him with day-to-day operations.
Vince takes great pride in his team and strives to better their work experience. Rapid growth and continuous success can often distract owners, but Vince has stayed dedicated to creating a culture of “mutual respect,” something customers can see and feel. Friendly staff are one thing, but to have employees that actively create an environment where customers feel welcomed and comfortable is something special, and Mount Bakery accomplishes this at both locations.
With the service industry’s usual ebb and flow, many employees come and go. Yet, as a testament to Mount Bakery’s culture, Vince proudly points out that some employees come back, for various reasons, as if returning to a safe home between adventures – just like he did.
Every staff member at Mount Bakery deservers their own article; only then could one appreciate the depth of talent, passion and incredible array of interests they embody.
Long before I knew the history of Mount Bakery, I luckily stumbled across them on an empty stomach. I left the café that day stuffed with the greatest eggs benedict I’d ever consumed. The list of fantastic food offerings goes on for days and I highly recommend checking their website if you want your mouth to water.
The most important aspect of the food – and one Vince and the staff work hard to maintain – is that it’s prepared with consistent quality. A decade of new ownership has seen the bakery continue to provide top quality food with the best ingredients.
Mount Bakery Café is one of those magical community-driven success stories that make you proud to eat out, because you know you’re taking part in something that has bettered your community for years.
Mount Bakery Café
308 W. Champion St. in downtown Bellingham
1217 Harris Avenue in Fairhaven
8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Monday-Sunday