LEBANON — Chelly Bouferrache left Lebanon the day after she graduated from high school in June 1987 to see the world, but she always kept in touch with her hometown and visited often since her family still lives there.
It was during her travels in Europe several years ago when Bouferrache learned about the wonders of French pastries.
“They are unlike anywhere else,” Bouferrache said. “The French use fresh cream, butter and more butter. Everything is fresh.”
Since April, Bouferrache has shared a taste of France to Linn County with her Colette Bakery & Bistro, housed in the lobby of the historic Lebanon Hotel at 661 Main St. in downtown Lebanon. The 82-room hotel was built in 1913.
Bouferrache and her three children moved back to Lebanon six years ago after spending several years in Portland — where at times she taught swimming lessons to French children — and a year in Bend. The move was predicated in part on the family’s love of horses. Her 12-year-old daughter is active with rodeo events.
Bouferrache said the Lebanon Hotel provides her with the ambience of a centuries-old European eatery, where the experience is as much social as gastronomic. Guests can sit at antique tables with matching chairs or cozy up on couches and enjoy studying the tall ceilings and antiques on the walls.
“I want Colette to provide a cozy, quirky, fun escape,” Bouferrache said.
A French bakery in Portland provides Bouferrache with fresh pastry dough every morning.
“We proof it and then add our own fresh ingredients,” she said. “We make about 15 to 20 different pastries each day. We also make seasonal tarts.”
A sample of offerings include blueberry scones, chocolate croissants, a cinnamon roll with cream, macaroons, eclairs, pear provence and a sweet Danish, just to name a few.
Bouferrache said a sea salt caramel roll is extremely popular, as is an almond croissant.
They are then baked on-site.
Bouferrache also orders fresh French bagels and cakes.
“We have a full coffee bar, freshly squeezed lemonade and artisan ice teas,” she said.
Breakfast items are available as well as sandwiches and salads for lunch. Sandwiches range from turkey and bacon to a deluxe BLT.
“We plan to expand our breakfast line and will be applying for our liquor license so we can offer things like mimosas and cocktails,” Bouferrache said.
Special treats include cotton candy and batch-made gelotto — addictive Italian ice cream.
Growing up, Bouferrache was a fan of the television show "Gilmore Girls." One of its stars was Scott Patterson, who now owns Scotty P’s Big Mug Coffee.
Bouferrache uses and sells the brand, which is both kosher and gluten-free. It also does not use any genetically modified ingredients.
She said the company has been “great to work with.” She said coffee was a recurring theme on the show.
“The double caffeine beans are extremely popular,” she said.
Opening a new business and operating during a pandemic has been a challenge, Bouferrache admits, but she is renovating an area in the back of the building as an events center when the pandemic ends.
“I’ve learned that you have to be flexible,” Bouferrache said. “I have to wear a lot of hats and constantly promote the business.”
The shop is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. Deliveries are available. Call 541-405-4149.
Bouferrache said she has been surprised by the variety of customers, from teens to mothers with children and a regular group of older men who drop by each day for coffee.
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