The scent of freshly baked cookies and granola emanates from the new, bright yellow bakery on Chapel Street.
New Haven resident Robin Schaffer ’79 opened Four Flours — the company’s first storefront — Dec. 15 on 1203 Chapel St. Almost two months later, the bakery’s grand opening will take place today at 11 a.m. with a guest appearance from Mayor Toni Harp. Before opening a brick-and-mortar location, Schaffer established Four Flours as a wholesale retail business to markets like Rica’s and Elm City 15 years ago, she said. Four Flours offers an all-natural assortment of cookies, biscotti, granola, breads, vegan treats, coffee and Chillwiches — ice-cream cookie sandwiches that students may recognize from the food truck that sells them in New Haven. Schaffer said she has been baking since high school, but her children inspired her to expand beyond her home kitchen.
Schaffer explained that managing a storefront has been something she was longing for because of the large difference between wholesale and retail.
“It’s nice to reach out to customers directly,” Schaffer said. “In retail you can also add so many flavors, like we have all kinds of gluten- and vegan-free baked goods now, as well as frozen cookie dough.”
Schaffer noted that while she initially did retail for women’s athletic clothing, she was always drawn to baking. Her design logo — a flower with four petals of different primary colors — was influenced by her four children, Schaffer added. Whenever she brought them baked goods, she would designate their treats with primary-colored labels.
Four Flours’ interior has a window to the back kitchen, allowing visitors to watch the bakers at work. Shaffer emphasized the bakery’s natural ingredients, which may not allow the sprinkles to appear as vibrant, but offer Four Flours an edge over other bakeries.
But an employee at Insomnia Cookies, just a block away from Four Flours, said the new bakery will not pose a threat to business.
“There’s no way they’ll be competition,” an employee at Insomnia on Chapel Street said. “We’re not threatened.”
Business is improving each week, Schaffer said. Its current demographic is a mix of neighborhood residents, graduate students and a few undergraduates. She added that she had always wanted the corner space on Chapel Street because of the large, open windows and general location.
Kate McMillan ’16, said she already buys a lot of baked goods from other stores around New Haven, but is particularly excited to try Four Flours.
“I haven’t gotten around to trying it yet,” said McMillan. “But they might be a better alternative to going somewhere more expensive and less fresh.”
But other students said the new bakery might not replace other long-standing locations. Mieke Scherpbier ’16 said while she wants to try Four Flours and loves Chillwiches, she remains skeptical about the store because she can buy her baked goods elsewhere.
Schaffer added that she wanted to hold a grand opening to thank the city, which offered a grant for the store facade, and to raise public awareness of the opened storefront.
Schaffer explained that she and her husband are also grateful to the state, which provided money for more labor. Because of the grant, the hours of the storefront have now doubled, while the prices from wholesale to retail have remained the same, underlined Shaffer.
Four Flours offers a 10 percent discount to Yale students and is open 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Correction, Feb. 4: A previous version of this article erroneously credited the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce for a $10,000 grant; in fact, the grant came from the city.