Long-ago trip to Europe results in new French bakery in Lebanon

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

When Chelly Bouferrache crossed the border from Germany into France while on a trip to Europe, she came upon a bakery where she, she says, she could practically hear angels singing. The windows were beautiful and the pastries were beyond delightful.
“To me, there was just a huge difference between French pastries and everyone else,” she said. “They’re sweeter.”
Since that moment, Bouferrache has been obsessed with French bakeries, she said.
That was nearly three decades ago, but now Bouferrache owns her own little French bakery, Colette Bakery & Bistro, in downtown Lebanon, located in The Lobby of the old Lebanon Hotel on Main Street.
Originally, she had tried to convince her French-baking friends to open a shop in Corvallis, because that seemed like a natural place to put a French bakery, she said. But she also thought it would be nice to have one closer to home.
Then the opportunity presented itself when the owner of the building in downtown Lebanon was looking for a tenant.
Bouferrache intended to hold a grand opening in mid-April, but then COVID happened.
“It just made sense to shut down immediately because we had a lot of older clients that came into The Lobby (to visit).”
But as she sat at home, quarantined, Bouferrache got a craving for French pastries, and then she thought perhaps people could do pick-up orders for her pastries. So she held a “soft opening,” which was perhaps a little harder than expected.
“I thought the community would appreciate it, but I didn’t know how much the community would appreciate it, until yesterday.”

Her selections sell out fast each morning. The case is filled with croissants, danishes, apple turnovers, brioche, fruit and cream cheese papillons, caramel and cinnamon rolls, scones and macarons.
“These are authentic French pastries made by a French pastry chef, (but) everything is baked in-house,” Bouferrache said.
Chocolate and almond croissants are considered a staple of French pastry, she said. Her danishes are topped with fruit, but she also bakes a savory version with ham and cheese or veggies and feta.
The bakery also offers a twist on the regular cinnamon roll by topping some with caramel instead of cream cheese frosting. As for gluten-free choices, Bouferrache serves coffee cake and lemon bars.
“Right now it’s almost impossible to get any French pastry that’s gluten-free. I had in mind, when I’m able to have a less limited menu, to do gluten-free desserts, like cheesecake and keto stuff.”
Colette Bakery & Bistro has an abbreviated menu for the time being, including espresso drinks. Bouferrache intends to grow her menu over time, adding American-style home-baked goods such as zucchini and banana breads. She wants to add croissant breakfast sandwiches and baguette sandwiches for lunch.
She also envisions the bistro part of her business.
“Bistros started out of kitchens of rooming houses. The person that owned the home would make big dinners, and that was another way for them to make some money. It tends to be comfort food, home-style food, and cassoulet.”
Bouferrache has a business and family counseling degree, and does photography as well, but for her, the bakery is her labor of love, she said.
“I really, really love French pastry. That’s what led me to this point.”
After the COVID crisis disappears, Bouferrache plans to open seven days a week. For now, big orders are preferred a day or two in advance via the business’ Facebook Messenger, and drop-ins are from 8 a.m. until sold out Monday through Friday.
“I’m shocked at how many people want to come out. Just, not being able to have anybody in here is kind of a bummer. It is slower than what it would be, but I can’t even imagine it being busier.”