Story By Grace Lattan
BROOKLYN, NY — Savory, crispy, buttery rich croissants. That’s what hundreds of New York locals and tourists stand in line for outside of Brooklyn Heights’ L’Appartement 4F bakery starting daily at 7:30 a.m., even in the dead of winter.
During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ashley and Gautier Coiffard, a software engineer and a school nurse, set out on a mission to cultivate perfect batches of bread and French croissants in their Brooklyn apartment. Their cottage bakery quickly grew into an NYC phenomenon. Since opening L’Appartement 4F’s storefront on Montague Street in May 2022, Ashley, Gautier and their team have built a brand and strong community of patrons who flock to try the artisanal baked goods made fresh daily. And, of course, the social media-famous croissant cereal.
With high demand and a small team of bakers, the Coiffards have done everything possible to increase production, including installing a refrigerator in the upstairs closet. Yet they’ve faced additional hurdles such as a wavering supply chain. Noa Mellul, general manager, events planner and public relations coordinator for L’Appartement 4F, shared that even in the face of challenges like the egg crisis, the bakery has remained consistent with their pricing.
“We were doing the math recently, and we were like ‘Oh my God. The eggs are really digging into our profits here,’” she said. “It’s something we need to think about and talk about.”
Supply chain issues aren’t the only hurdles in the daily sprint of running a small business in 2023. According to Mellul, the bakery used fry bags for its croissants until they were banned in New York City as part of the city’s waste reduction efforts. The team had to find a quick solution to replace the key paper good that supported the distribution of their top-selling product.
Through their adaptive methods in the baking and sales processes, L’Appartement 4F maintains vital relationships with ingredient suppliers who provide critical pieces to the bakery’s success, such as Isigny Saint-Mère butter and Valrhona chocolate from France.
Importing butter all the way from France isn’t for nothing. Customers trying the croissants for the first, second or even 20th time recount how decadent the bakery’s marquee product is and why it’s worth the wait.
Recently, one customer visiting from New Jersey said it was her second day in a row waiting in line for a L’Appartement 4F croissant. Another customer, who is a Brooklyn native, shared she had been following Ashley and Gautier since their start in their apartment, and ever since, she’s been stopping by the bakery whenever she’s in the area. When asked what keeps her coming back, she said, “The baked goods at L’Appartement 4F just take you to a different place.” Because L’Appartement 4F only sells its baked goods direct to consumer — they don’t sell online or offer delivery — customers have to be motivated to come back for more.
New Yorkers always seem willing to wait in line for the newest trending product, but L’Appartement 4F’s continued success and repeat customers indicate that they are doing something special within the walls of the bakery. When asked for their advice to other bakers who would like to experience similar success, Mellul noted they have an atmosphere in the kitchen of learning and teamwork and problem fixing, and they don’t focus on their egos or their past jobs.
“We’re like a little family,” she said.
That family is growing in a way. Beginning in March, the bakery will transition into a 25-seat French bistro at night. The evening concept will have a new name and will serve wine and small plates.