Yesterday, Eater announced the happy news that the Miette Confiserie on Octavia street—the space that looks like a tween girl's dream, all candy, ribbons and gumdrop trees—will in fact NOT be closing, as was previously reported. We had a chance to catch up with Meg Ray, Miette's founder, shortly before the holidays, and while she hinted at that time that the Hayes Valley space might be spared, since the details hadn't been finalized she was (understandably) nervous about announcing it as fact.
But what Eater didn't report was the showcase showdown that led to all this, which Ray filled us in on back in early December. Seems it's a classic case of business deal gone bad. Several years ago, Ray partnered with La Boulange to expand her business. They took an ownership stake, she began producing her wares in their massive, state-of-the-art South San Francisco commissary kitchen, and all was rosy in pastry land. But the deal started to go south when Ray, in her words, "began feeling pressure from the La Boulange team to change the way I did business. It turns out they didn't share my same beliefs about sustainability and quality—they just want to make money." Now trapped financially, Ray had to make some decisions. Closing the Chestnut street store allowed her to pay out the La Boulange investors and regain sole ownership of the company she founded (with ex-partner Caitlin Williams) in 2001, but she was heartbroken to lose the Hayes Valley outpost in the buy out. "My husband and I built that place. We painted the walls ourselves. We slept there. I just don't want to lose that spot." Clearly, Ray's persistence paid off.
And though the closure of Chestnut street is disappointing, the new year promises to be a busy one for Miette. The light-filled 3200 square-foot production kitchen, located in a historic space in Jack London Square, is in full swing, and by March the new baking and pastry school will be up and running, offering both a six-week baking and decorating program (held afternoons and evenings) and weekend workshops covering such topics as cookies, candies and wedding cake assembly. It's a sweet ending to the story.