Journey with La Croissanterie to France
Having already blown the concept of your simple 'gas station deli' out the window with its Bonjour Cafes, Total Jamaica has added a tasty international accent to its food offerings with the roll-out of La Croissanterie, to much acclaim, at three St Andrew service stations - Liguanea, Manor Park and Washington Boulevard - with others in line to follow.
Every detail, from preparation to menu and display, take Total Bonjour Cafe customers on an international gourmet journey to Paris, France, where La Croissanterie first opened in 1977 as a bakery, before evolving and spreading its delight through top-end restaurants all over Europe.
The aroma of Jablum coffee and fresh croissants, baked in front of customers, has 'Jamaicanised' the La Croissanterie franchise, of which the island has been the first to savour in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Sandra Tentet, one of two Paris-based La Croissanterie specialists conducting training in Jamaica, spoke passionately about the international standards maintained by franchisees, which include Total service stations all over Europe and francophone Africa.
"There are daily checklists, representing the respective processes and recipes. We have several training manuals dealing with everything, from hygiene to merchandising.
"It is important to have the same merchandising and practices everywhere, whether Jamaica or Paris. We must respect the La Croissanterie brand and concept. Everything is the same, even the uniform worn by the staff," the Frenchwoman pointed out.
Croissants and baguettes being baked in front of your eyes, sandwiches made from scratch, within touching distance of a hungry customer, is all part of the experience.
"That's very important," Tentet emphasised. "The customer must see the quality of the product, the La Croissanterie experience."
Freshly made sandwiches
Nothing is done and made to stand on display so there is no soggy sandwich at La Croissanterie's Tweat section, where mouthwatering chicken favourites such as croissandwiches, wraps, nuggets, tenders, fries and wings with exotic dips await the most discerning palates, whether after a night out on the town with friends or on a run to the countryside with family.
Karen Mignott, shop, foods and services manager, Total Jamaica, revealed that Ironshore, in the tourist capital of Montego Bay, and New Kingston, the heart of Jamaica's business district, are next in line to get their taste of La Croissanterie. These restaurants will open in another week, and Ms Mignott expressed her delight with the pending new food offerings.
"The La Croissanterie menu of French croissants, sandwiches and other pastries will definitely be an exciting experience for New Kingston and Ironshore," said Mignott, adding that the feedback from customers have been great.
"We have been getting feedback from a wide cross section. Parents have told us that their children are in love with the pastry. The adults have been enjoying our healthy sandwiches, especially the tuna. The variety appeals to every taste - pies, custards, cookies, muffins and donuts."
From all indications, La Croissanterie will be on the lips of many Jamaicans for a long time to come!