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March 28, 2017

Gâteau bakery/cafe coming to Old Town Warrenton

Photo/Cassandra Brown
Lora Gookin will move the business from her home to downtown, where she plans to operate seven days a week.
• What: Bakery, café and tea room.

• Serving: Desserts and light meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner and selling cakes and other baked goods.

• Where: 12 Culpeper St., Warrenton.

• Owner: Lora Gookin.

• Opening: May or June

• Building: Two stories; about 1,775 square feet; built in 1890 and later housed a bank.

• Investment: $365,000 to purchase building and about $250,000 for renovations and equipment.

• Employees: Possibly 10.

• Needs: Certificate of appropriateness from Warrenton Architectural Review Board for stained glass window and faux balcony.

• Website:
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
A new bakery and café will come to Warrenton this spring.

Lora Gookin, owner of Gâteau (French for cake), will move her business to 12 Culpeper St.

For the last six years, Ms. Gookin has run the “distinctive cake” business from a commercial kitchen in her home near Vint Hill.

Ms. Gookin and her staff last year baked more than 400 cakes for weddings and special occasions.

“We’ve gotten so busy, I now have two full-time employees, and I think it’s time to go to the next level,” she said. “It’s time to separate home and work. We’re very limited by physical space, and I’m ready to expand.”

Ms. Gookin, 48, will move her cake business into the new building in Old Town and expand with a café and tearoom, open seven days a week.

She hopes to open in May or June and hire eight more full- and part-time employees.

A civil engineer by trade, Ms. Gookin’s passion started as a hobby and turned into a business after she took a nine-month course in baking and pastry arts from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale, Ariz.

She bought the brick building on Culpeper Street for $365,000 in January.

Fauquier’s first bank, Gaines and Brothers, occupied the Italianate structure in the early 1900s.

“I love Culpeper Street,” Ms. Gookin said. “It really has that old world, European feeling. I think it would be perfect on that street.”

She plans to invest about $250,000 for renovations and equipment.

Hinckley, Shepherd, Norden Architects will design the two-story, 1,775-square-foot space.

The first-floor bakery on a rotating basis will offer about 50 homemade dessert items including cake slices, croissants, scones, cupcakes, donuts, Danishes, cheesecake, gelato, brownies, cookies and French macarons.

“Our focus will always be the desserts,” Ms. Gookin said. “Those will be our stars.”

The café, also on the first floor, will serve “light fare” for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including sandwiches, salads, crepes, quiches, pot pies and soups.

All tea will come from Green Alchemy Herb and Mercantile Co. in Lovettsville.

The second floor will house the kitchen and cake decorating area. A dumbwaiter will transport food and heavy cakes from the kitchen to the first floor.

Ms. Gookin uses high-quality organic ingredients, with no shortenings, dyes, preservatives or aluminum.

“I’m really particular about ingredients,” Ms. Gookin said. “This same care and consideration of ingredients will naturally transfer into the café . . . from scratch with the best ingredients.”

She also plans to offer vegan, gluten-free and non-dairy items.

Ms. Gookin believes her food will compliment, not compete, with other bakeries and restaurants in town.

“I think we will work together. Even though we have a café, we will have enough different items. I think it’s going to add to the variety,” Ms. Gookin said. “There is not a lot of overlap of products,” Ms. Gookin said. “We won’t do pies. Pies are Red Truck’s thing, which they do very well.”

She plans several exterior improvements to the building in Warrenton’s historic district. Those changes would need a certificate of appropriateness from the Architectural Review Board.

Last week, Ms. Gookin received approval from the ARB on her business sign, outside lighting, brick and mortar repairs and other exterior improvements. She hopes to also get approval for a stain glass window and faux balcony.

During Thursday’s meeting, ARB member Carter Nevill commended the applicant for turning a “service-oriented building into retail. I’m delighted to see you coming. Culpeper Street will benefit.”

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Kay G. · April 3, 2017 at 6:47 pm
Fabulous! It sounds like your establishment will be different from Red Truck and Great Harvest (which are also fabulous), and gives our old town yet another wonderful shop and cafe for residents and visitors alike to enjoy!
hgnorris · March 28, 2017 at 2:35 pm
I am very excited about this! Love,the idea of a cafe too. I will definitely become a customer. I already spend way too much time and too many dollars at both Red Truck and Great Harvest. Now I can add yet another wonderful place to my guilty pleasures! Welcome to Warrenton!
TodNehman · March 28, 2017 at 1:17 pm
Lora, I am not a customer of yours....yet...but I will be! Thank you for investing for the benefit of us all. I look forward to my fist visit! Thank you again!
BJ · March 28, 2017 at 12:41 pm
My mother and her friends will be so glad to have a new tea destination for their get-togethers right in Warrenton.
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