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“We approached development and improvement of processes from an engineering mindset; testing, experimentation, changing one variable at a time … if you change more than one variable at a time, you don’t know which variable makes the difference. So, it’s a very carefully considered process,” Kate Reid told Inside Retail.
“[When we opened], there was a huge amount of hype around our odd little store. People would line up from like two or three in the morning, three days a week, and we’d sell out by nine o’clock.”
This “odd little store” was never intended to be a bakery and, as Lune grew, bigger premises was required to meet demand.
The design of Lune’s flagship store in Melbourne is as unexpected as Reid’s background in Formula 1. The 440-square-metre, turn-of-the-century warehouse centres around a climate-controlled glass kitchen where pastry chefs are busy creating croissants right in front of customers’ eyes.
“One of the challenges of making croissants is working in a consistent, temperature-controlled environment so you don’t activate the yeast and keep the butter as cold as possible in the layers of the pastry,” Reid explained.
Climate controlling the whole warehouse would have been incredibly expensive and next to impossible, so the team designed this unique space to meet their needs.
“We had this image of that scene in Ocean’s 11 where, at a warehouse down at the docks, they built that perfect replica of a bank vault to break into,” Reid explained.
“We created this glass room in the middle of a factory warehouse that is technologically state-of-the-art looks really out of place. We were the first people ever to design a pastry counter like this and it’s been copied the world over.”
Not only is this design feature an exciting element for customers, it also allows the pastry chefs, often hidden away in back kitchens, to showcase their skills.
“As a pastry chef, typically you’re in a kitchen with no windows, you’re often bullied about by the rest of the cuisine chefs and you don’t see daylight your entire shift, and you certainly don’t get to see the customers enjoying what you’ve created,” Reid said.
“By putting the raw pastry kitchen front-facing, in the middle of the customer space, it means that the pastry chef can actually see the theatre of the entire space and see the customers enjoying the product. When you’re putting in a 10-hour day, it’s nice to know that your hard work and care and attention to that product is being appreciated.”
Engaging customer experience
Customer experience is a critical component of Lune’s success. At the counter, customers are presented with the array of pastries available to them. And as soon as a pastry sells out, that item is not available anymore.
“People have described it as [similar to] the Apple store. it’s very minimalist, just a lineup of one of each of the pastries when you arrive at the counter. And out of the corner of your right eye, you have the cube, that raw pastry kitchen where you can actually watch the pastry chef making the product that you’re about to eat,” she said.
“When you arrive at the counter, we want our staff to make you feel like you’re the only person in the world. Any question you have about any item is completely acceptable, and you can take your time deciding exactly what pastries you want to take away with you from this experience.”
Innovation and experimentation are key components of the Lune Lab, the brand’s exclusive dining experience that includes a multi-course degustation made with croissant pastry. Innovation is also translated to all areas of the business including process, customer service, and packaging.
“Basically, the rule that we live by is that any process or way that we do something is always up for iteration or improvement. If any single person has an idea on how that process can be improved, they outline how they think it should happen. We then take this and if it proves to be better than the way that we’re currently doing, it becomes the new way that we do it,” Reid said.
“[Our] staff are incredibly intelligent, skilled, experienced gifted pastry chefs and front of house, and we really want them to feel like they’re involved in the evolution. I think that’s quite a big part in keeping Lune relevant.”
Sydney store on the way
Reid will celebrate 10 years of Lune in June 2022. Lune recently opened a store in Brisbane and is planning to open another in Sydney in the next 12 months.
“In the next 12-15 months we will have a store opening in Sydney that I would hope would be very much a reflection of our Fitzroy store, a really engaging space where the customer can see the raw product being produced and to be a real showcase for the talent, and quality of our pastry chefs and what we produce,” Reid said.
“We’re incredibly excited to come to Sydney, we really feel like there’s space for us in the market there.”