June 2017: La Tour Bakehouse
June 29, 2017 - La Tour Bakehouse’s humble beginnings can be traced back to a small Vietnamese sandwich shop in Honolulu’s historic Chinatown. When Thanh Lam opened the very first Ba-Le Sandwich in 1984, his vision was to offer delicious and authentic banh mi sandwiches on freshly baked bread. Unable to find a supplier that could produce the same crusty french bread he remembered from his youth, he learned how to bake it himself. His dedication to quality bread and a focus on customer service has spanned nearly three decades and countless loaves of bread.
Throughout the years, the small family business has grown to include nearly 20 Ba-Le shops, a thriving wholesale business, presence at numerous farmers’ markets around the island and an exciting retail concept. Due to the tremendous growth and success of the wholesale operations, Thanh and his two sons decided that a new name would better encompass the range of products offered. La Tour Bakehouse was introduced in 2011 and reflects the artisan techniques used by Executive Pastry Chef Rodney Weddle.
HSBP members were fortunate to have one of Thanh’s sons, Brandon, spend some time to share the company’s story and history, including his father’s very personal journey as a refugee from Vietnam. A tour of La Tour Bakehouse’s 80,000 sq. ft. facility followed, where they bake over 300 fresh products for hotels, airlines, supermarkets and local restaurants. La Tour’s future expansion plans include growing a reputation outside of Hawaii with their Furikake Puff, now selling in Costco warehouses across the mainland. While they are bucking a trend of a declining Hawaii manufacturing industry by producing the puffs in Honolulu, Brandon discussed the challenges and costs related to shipping their products to the mainland and hinted at considering other options that will help take their business to the next level.
The event concluded with a very exciting surprise when Brandon generously offered everyone an empty shopping bag to fill with whatever pre-packaged goodies that could fit in the bags! It was like “Supermarket Sweep” and everyone went home with wonderful treats! Many members in attendance also stayed to have lunch at La Tour Café afterwards—it was a delicious way to show our appreciation and support for a great morning with Brandon Lam and the team at La Tour Bakehouse!