Within a year of opening Comet Coffee, it became apparent to partners Mark Attwood and Stephanie Fischer that the 150-square-foot kitchen would not suffice. Storage of Fischer's baking supplies was in competition with the milk for Attwood's coffee bar in the refrigerator. The highly prized croissant dough could only be hand-rolled out twice a week due to St. Louis's high temperatures. Of course, compromising on the quality of their products was not an option, so looking for a commissary space became a priority. After they bought a dough sheeter at auction, the search intensified, and a suitable spot was eventually found in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood. Comet Croissanterie & Creamery opened for business in August. In addition to being that needed commissary space for the original Comet cafe, the shop—as suggested in its name—can be two different experiences depending on the day and time: Every morning except Tuesdays and Saturdays, you get a scaled-down coffee experience with just espresso-based drinks, pastries, and four seats. Then, four nights a week, it's an ice cream shop.
“We wound up here because it's close to our house,” Fischer says. “We can walk home, and it's nice to be in a community that's a little different from our current shop, which is [in] more of a business park. We also thought it would be fun to do ice cream in this community.”
There's much more elbow room at the Croissanterie now for the bakers to prep the croissants, muffins, quiches, and other divine treats served at the original Comet Coffee location in the city. Unlike a lot of kitchens, there's also an abundance of natural light. Two workstation islands anchor the 900-square-foot space, with supplies loaded both underneath the desk and floating above. An on-site freezer allows the team to select local produce when it's in season and store until needed. After all the goods are prepped, they are delivered to Comet Coffee at night and baked up in the shop the next morning.
“Quality-wise and experience-wise for the customers, the only difference is they're going to have more selection and more stuff, and it's just as fresh,” Attwood says of the expansion. “The key thing is that we still bake [at the original location]. We wanted to make it so when the customers came in the morning, they could still smell the pastries getting baked…everything's still warm.”
The morning menu at the new Kirkwood space is quite minimal, featuring three croissant options, a chocolate chip cookie, an espresso from local roaster Blueprint Coffee, and plain old whole milk stored in a SureShot milk dispenser. Espresso is made with a Mahlkönig Peak grinder and the original espresso machine from Comet Coffee, a two-group La Marzocco Linea Classic painted yellow to match the shop's front door.
There's also a menu item offered at the Croissanterie that combines Attwood and Fischer's skills: the Waffogato. A fresh waffle-cone bowl gets a scoop of ice cream dropped in. The coup de grâce is the espresso dripped over the ice cream, finished off by a Luxardo cherry.
“The waffle-cone part adds a little bit of sweetness but [also] that textural component,” Attwood, a self-confessed ice cream fanatic, says. “A lot of the great dishes you'll get in higher-end restaurants, they'll add something crispy and it really elevates whatever you're eating. [Our cone] adds that textural component…but is also buttery and delicious. It's a delicate waffle—higher in butter percentage and lower in flour, so it's a little richer. [Being made fresh] makes a huge difference.”
Although they were mum about any future plans to expand, Attwood and Fischer have two clear, simple objectives for their new space: to open on Saturdays, and to offer a great batch-brew coffee.
Evan C. Jones is a Sprudge.com contributor based in St. Louis. Read more Evan C. Jones on Sprudge.