Crisp crusted baguettes, melt-in-your mouth cookies, flaky but chewy croissants.
For nearly 20 years, French Riviera Bakery in Albuquerque’s North Valley has produced bread, pastries and cookies according to family recipes owner Daniel Reymonenq inherited from his father. Restaurants, casinos and folks dropping by were his regular customers.
In November, a fire in the next door business at the Fourth Street shopping center nearly ended that tradition. After roof and ceiling repairs, Reymonenq relaunched his business in March.
This month, the bakery is the showcase for “Small Business Saturdays,” a program kicked off in April by Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham.
The idea was modeled on a nationwide program created by American Express that encouraged consumers to boost local economies by shopping at local businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
French Riviera Bakery is exactly the kind of business that fits the program criteria, Lujan Grisham said.
“It’s a retail effort in our community with foot traffic,” Lujan Grisham said, “We want to let people know there’s a great bakery in the neighborhood.”
The program places a sign in front of the business and promotes them on the county’s website.
Reymonenq said it’s been tough to come back from the fire.
His 2,000-square-foot kitchen and retail space suffered smoke and water damage that caused the roof to cave in.
He is the fifth generation of a family of bakers that hails from Toulon, on the French Mediterranean coast, known as the Riviera.
Reymonenq’s father, at one time a chef in the White House, helped him get a green card. After coming to the United States, Reymonenq had a military career in the Navy. When the captain of his ship settled in Albuquerque, Reymonenq decided to follow.
“I wanted to be away from the ocean,” he said.
In New Mexico, he returned to the skills he had mastered in the family business in France.
“We make everything from scratch here,” Reymonenq said, gesturing at the armchair-size mixer.
Then he demonstrated how the industrial type dough roller flattens and re-flattens pastry to create the light but chewy texture needed for croissants.
The oven he brought in from France bakes the baguettes on a stone surface, injecting steam at the right moment to create the crisp outer crust while leaving the interior of the bread soft and elastic.
Reymonenq delivers to restaurants and the Route 66 and Dancing Eagle casinos. He has supplied more than 900,000 loaves of bread to the Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen restaurant along Interstate 25.
He also sells retail, and the counter at the front of the shop displays croissants along with fruit tarts, strudels, turnovers and cookies. The baguettes stand in the tall wicker baskets typical of French bakeries.
— This article appeared on page 1 of the West Side Journal