Dough needed: French Loaf turns to customers
A bit of bad luck hasn't deterred the owner of the French Loaf bakery from thinking of the ingredients to make the Grandview-area institution better than ever.
A fundraising campaign for the French Loaf on the crowd-funding site gofundme.com will continue through mid-February. The goal is to raise $25,000.
Grandview Heights resident Marijon Lococo became co-owner of the bakery about a year ago after her former partner invited her to participate.
But problems arose when "he felt he couldn't contribute what he originally thought he could," Lococo said.
"Business has been good and we've seen an increase in daily activity, but we've had some financial issues that have had to be dealt with," she said. "It's kind of taken its toll."
Lococo has been sole owner of the bakery since November.
In June 2012, the French Loaf returned its kitchen to its storefront at 1456 W. Fifth Ave.
After Walgreens took over the adjacent space that formerly housed the kitchen, a previous owner moved it to a building off U.S. Route 33.
"It just got to be too much to operate the kitchen at a different location," Lococo said. "It's a bit of a tight fit here now, but we're making it work."
The kitchen needs more space, another oven and other improvements "to move it into the 21st century," she said.
Lococo and her husband, Tony, already have repainted and refurbished the seating area of the bakery.
"I'd like to remove some of the tables at the front and put in some overstuffed chairs to make it a cozier and more-comfortable place where people can sit and read or bring their laptops," Lococo said. "We already get people who do that now."
She said she also is looking to add more items to the bakery's menu.
"We want to modernize what we have here without losing the character that's made the French Loaf so appealing to people," Lococo said.
Cake-decorating was instantly appealing to her when she first took a class several years ago, she said.
"I was just completely entranced," Lococo said. "I began baking cakes for friends for weddings and special occasions and people started telling me that I should start my own business."
Despite some of the trials of the past year, she said, the bakery business is a joy.
"It's the energy. When people come in here, they are happy, and if not, then they leave happy because they're coming in to get something they like," Lococo said.
Filling a special order or cake-design request "is such a thrill when you see the smile on their face," she said.
Lococo said she and her husband had talked about connecting with a crowd-funding site, but it was Tony Lococo who posted the French Loaf on gofundme.com earlier this month.
"I didn't know he did it until I went online and saw it," she said.
Supporters can find the link to the French Loaf donation page by clicking on the "business and entrepreneurs" link on the left side of the gofundme.com homepage. Donors are offered incentives based on how much they give, from two free cookies to 10 percent off an order to a free cake.
The fundraiser is an all-or-nothing proposition, Marijon Lococo said.
"We have to reach the $25,000 goal; otherwise, we don't get anything," she said.
Lococo said she has been gratified with the number of donations received so far and the comments supporters have made as they pledged.
"It really means a lot to us," she said. "Tony and I have been Grandview residents for almost 10 years and we love this community. It's got the feel of a big city in a small-town setting.
"I want to help keep the French Loaf as great as it has been over the last 30 years."