Even regulars of La Boulangerie (4600 Magazine St., 504-269-3777) could easily mistake the changes evident at this bakery as nothing more than a timely cosmetic upgrade. The same breads and pastries are in their accustomed places, and the name over the door is the same.
The biggest changes are behind the scenes, however. Chef Donald Link and his partners bought La Boulangerie last month, and reopened it last week after about two weeks of gentle renovation. The baking operation now serves as the stand-alone pastry department — led by pastry chef Maggie Scales — supplying all of Link’s restaurants.
The low-profile transition to the new owners was very much intentional.
“It’s the same concept,” as the original La Boulangerie, Link said after announcing his acquisition. “We like it. That’s why we’re buying it. If we were going to open our own, it would look a lot like this.”
Link was a regular customer of La Boulangerie. When founder Dominique Rizzo decided to sell the business, he approached Link first.
“This feels like a good fit for us. It’s good for our brand, good for our people,” Link said.
As before, La Boulangerie has a coffee bar, though now it uses beans from the city’s latest micro-roaster, Congregation Coffee, which was formed this year in part by Ian Barrilleaux, chef de cuisine at Link’s casual eatery Butcher. Meats for La Boulangerie’s sandwiches are now supplied by Butcher.
Among its many specialties, La Boulangerie was known as a source for the French-style king cake, with its layers of puff pastry, almond paste center and ultra-crisp outer shell. Fans should have no fear of this changing.
“We’re definitely keeping the French king cake,” said Link. “That’s the king cake I eat.”
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.