Belle Pastry: Baking with Wholehearted Philanthropy
One local pastry chef has taken an innovative approach to keep his small business afloat and his team employed. Khalid Kaskou, owner of Belle Pastry, pivoted his business model, changed up his offerings to mitigate hard times and helped champion other local businesses while extending his generosity to frontline workers. It’s all part of his recipe for doing good.
This collaborative spirit and compassion for others can be traced to an upbringing in Paris, France, where Khalid learned classic confectionary practices firsthand from his parents, who ran an authentic Parisian bakery. He brought that passion to Downtown Bellevue with the opening of Belle Pastry, where he bakes his take on French classics.
Modest operations like his were faced with closures in March as public safety mandates rolled out to quell the pandemic. Ultimately, Belle Pastry lost nearly a quarter of its revenue. Despite these obstacles, Khalid committed himself to pursuing alternative avenues to bolster his staff and the local community. This paid off - to date, he hasn’t closed the bakery a single day throughout the pandemic and no employees have been laid off. In fact, production has ramped up to sustain a slew of charitable initiatives Khalid launched.
After several customers inquired about coordinating bulk purchases to donate to local health clinics, Khalid recognized an opportunity to better facilitate these transactions and created a webpage for customers to submit donations for curated pastry deliveries, given as a scrumptious token of gratitude to hospital staff, nonprofits, and first responders. Since March, Khalid and his staff have delivered over 3,600 pastries to healthcare workers at Swedish Hospital, EvergreenHealth Medical Center, UW Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente’s Bellevue Medical Center, Seattle Children's Hospital, Overlake Hospital, Kin On Assisted Living and the Bellevue Fire Station. Approximately 470 pastries have been donated to nonprofit organizations like Sacred Heart Shelter, Jubilee Women’s Center, Jubilee REACH and Mary’s Place since late November.
Along with sharing his supplies, Khalid began offering the space outside his storefront, free of charge, to flower farmers displaced by market closures during the summer months to sell their bouquets. He also welcomed the Hmong Association of Washington to use his spacious patio as a rendezvous point for fundraisers that benefit flower farmers and nonprofit organizations. Khalid also encouraged Homemake Gardens, located in Carnation, to expand their clientele to the Eastside and allow customers to pick up purchases in front of his store, without accepting any percentage of the profit.
These partnerships are a powerful example of how businesses can support each other when the odds are stacked against local economies. Khalid strongly believed that any opportunity to connect and build camaraderie is worthwhile. He’d determined to provide some semblance of normalcy, he says, and began offering virtual party and happy hour packages. Customers can order cakes and pastries for an upcoming celebration, which he personally delivers to each participant so everyone can have their cake - and eat it too - while socializing online. This offering has sweetened countless remote office soirées, birthday parties and baby showers.
To simplify limitations around portability and other logistical issues, Khalid reimagined his menu by creating new products better suited for travel and interactive home preparations that still offer a little levity to your daily humdrum. Some of these culinary creations have quickly become crowd favorites, such as the petit four tasting platters that feature a medley of baguette sandwiches, croissants and creamy desserts, and prepackaged, frozen pastries ready to bake and serve in the comfort of your own kitchen.
When Khalid considers the longevity of these ventures, his gut instinct suggests he’ll do it for as long as necessary. The demand still exists among those experiencing homelessness, food insufficiency and other humanitarian crises, and the urgency to show appreciation and empathy for those devoting themselves to combating the virus remains. Khalid said he would continue to offer and organize pastry distributions and, more importantly, inspire a little faith in humanity and kindness in the community.
This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.
SIGN UP FOR THE HEART OF BELLEVUE NEWSLETTER