Christmas music and sprinkles compliment the aroma of freshly-baked bread and cookies at Debb Robbins’ Le Bakery.
Located 10 minutes north of campus in the Metro Centre, Robbins has owned Le Bakery for six years. But Le Bakery has been rooted in northern Peoria for decades.
“[Le Bakery] was started right about this time 31 years ago, here at the Metro Centre by Pete and Wanda Hanssen,” Robbins said.
Robbins, who previously worked in medical sales, said she was looking for a new experience – that feeling led her to buy Le Bakery.
“[As I was] looking at a variety of different businesses that were for sale in the area, this one put a smile on my face,” Robbins said. “It just made me feel good … I felt warm inside.”
Robbins said when she bought the shop, she had no previous experiences similar to owning a bakery.
“It was purely a leap of faith,” Robbins said. “I’m very blessed to have a staff that takes care of the baking and the decorating. I assist [with the decorating] a little bit here and there just as a creative outlet … I’m in more of a management role.”
Robbins said much of what she does includes fulfilling Le Bakery’s special orders.
“A lot of the specialty cake orders I take care of just to make sure we get all the details correct,” Robbins said. “I do the weddings, all of the meetings with the brides, helping them set up the cakes. It’s a lot of fun.”
With the advent of larger stores such as Hy-Vee and Kroger in the Metro Centre, Robbins said the type of customer that shops at Le Bakery has become those who value a homey atmosphere.
“I want [customers] to feel appreciated,” Robbins said. “I want them to enjoy what they’re eating. Little kids come in with their mom and dad, and they just make a beeline for the cookie case, and they are just plastered against the cookie case. That’s fun; I like to see that people are enjoying the experience.”
Due to the success of Le Bakery, a second location opened in Washington this year. According to Robbins, the Washington community has been supportive of the expansion.
“The people of Washington have been overwhelmingly excited for us to come there,” Robbins said. “People would come in and be like, ‘Oh, what are you doing here? That’s so awesome.’ It’s pretty exciting.”
Robbins also said the Washington Downtown Square, the location of the second store, contains architecture that fits the feel she intended for Le Bakery.
“[I’m] very tickled to have a space on the square,” Robbins said. “Those buildings and that location is just really cool, and it’s a beautiful space that we’ve dressed up with pinks and blacks and greys and a little bit of silver. It’s going to be fun.”
Robbins said she encourages Bradley students to stop by Le Bakery to see how they like it.
“Come up and see us,” Robbins said. “Come up and try some stuff. We have a lot of fun things; we can do little party trays that are relatively inexpensive. We can easily put together something nice for those that are on a budget and have it be something that’s fresh and homemade and in the spirit of Christmas.”
Le Bakery is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.