A Restored Pratt Street
Through improved and restored retail storefronts, renovated residential spaces, and curated programming, Pratt St is being rediscovered.
On Pratt Street in Hartford, the busy hum of cranes and the shouts of construction workers signal a reinvigoration of downtown’s prettiest avenue. Inside the newly renovated 80 Pratt St., sisters Alex Pilon and Monica Beaudoin and their father Rich Beaudoin have created an oasis of peace and quiet with pretty flowers and delicious smells.
Bloom Bake Shop is a family business that combines Monica Beaudoin’s scrumptious pastries and Pilon’s floral arrangements and often meshes the two in cookies and cakes decorated with edible flowers. It opened Aug. 25.
Sept. 1 was the two-year anniversary of the business, which started in a commercial kitchen in the city’s Swift Factory.
“We had no storefront. We did special orders, went to farmers markets, did pop-up events,” Pilon said. “We would bake for functions and do the flowers for those functions, too.”
Owning a bakery is a lifelong dream for Monica Beaudoin. The sisters grew up in Granby, and she baked every chance she got. “I would bake scones and drop them off at my friends’ houses and their parents started asking for them,” Beaudoin said. “When I was in high school I worked in the local cafe Lighten Up. I liked to be the first one there and start the muffins and scones.”
She specialized in baking at Johnson & Wales University’s celebrated culinary program, graduating in 2015. She worked in a coffee shop in Providence, then moved to Virginia to work as a pastry chef at a country store. Then she wanted to come home.
Opening a business in the early, uncertain days of the pandemic didn’t faze her.
“A lot of things were so up in the air, but owning a business, I felt like I was in control. I felt safe at a risky time. It made me feel comfortable connecting with people,” she said.
While all this was going on, Pilon was working in public policy, for the state, then for a lobbying firm. But her own passion, flower arranging, lured her into a career shift, collaborating with her sister. She and her father joined Bloom in 2021.
“I spent a lot of time developing relationships in the community. They were the first to come in and support us,” Pilon said.
Rich Beaudoin worked as an accountant at Pratt & Whitney/UTC, but he also had a career in hospitality. For about five years, he helped family members renovate and run the Gwyn Careg Inn, a bed and breakfast in Pomfret. As children, the sisters got their first work experiences at the inn. “They helped in the gardens. They helped get the rooms ready,” Rich Beaudoin said.
The new shop opened with the help of a grant from HartLift, a city program to revitalize vacant storefronts by granting development funds to encourage new businesses to move into the spaces. Many Pratt Street vacancies, and vacancies elsewhere downtown, are finding new life with the grants.
The shop sells a variety of pastries. In-store options, which rotate daily, are a wide variety of cookies ($2.50); cinnamon rolls ($5); scones (blueberry lemon, chocolate chip, chocolate cherry, cherry almond, lemon almond, cranberry orange, or lemon-poppy jam-filled) for $3.50; muffins (chocolate chip, blueberry coffee cake, banana chocolate chip, apple cinnamon crumble, peanut butter chocolate chip and cinnamon coffee cake) for $3.50; biscuits (ham-chive-cheese, rosemary cheddar, caramelized onion-goat cheese, everything, and buttermilk) for $3.50; sweet breads (coffee cake, vegan pumpkin spice, cornbread, blueberry coffee cake, gluten-free chocolate almond, and banana bread); pressed edible flower shortbread cookies for $3.50; and slices of upside-down fruit cakes for $5.50.
Beaudoin also custom-makes flourless chocolate tortes and other cakes. The cakes can, by request, can be decorated with frosting flowers or edible flowers. It also sells platters and special orders of any of the above pastries, chocolate brioche rolls, monkey bread, pecan sticky buns, and danishes.
Coffee is from Giv Coffee in Canton. and sourdough loaves are from Canberra Farms in Willimantic.
“Our intent is to add more retail items from local vendors. We’re hoping to start jewelry soon, earrings and necklaces,” Pilon said.
The sisters still do farmers markets, in Willimantic on Saturdays, in the West End of Hartford on Tuesdays, in Andover and Manchester on Wednesdays, as well as R Dee Winery in Enfield and Hops on the Hill Fall Market in Glastonbury.
Bloom — in the elegant storefront where No Fish Today and Tanuki Japanese noodle restaurant used to be — is one of the first HartLift grantees to open for business. Many more are under construction throughout the city, with Pratt Street as the center of the activity.
“It’s an excellent time to be doing business on Pratt. The people in the shops help each other out,” Pilon said.
Bloom Bake Shop, 80 Pratt St., is open Wednesday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. bloombakeshopct.com.
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