Valerie Coullet in her kitchen at Le Petit Four/ Credit: Courtesy Le Petit Four

Since she launched her French pastry business Le Petit Four, The Little Oven in Needham in 2018, Valerie Coullet has fulfilled online orders for her popular viennoisseries from her home-based commercial kitchen on South Street. Now she’s ready to fulfill her dream of opening a shop — but it won’t be in Needham. 

This week Coullet announced she will open a brick-and-mortar store at 380 Washington St. in Wellesley Hills, taking over what had been the White Bakery. She hopes to open in October.

“It’s a dream come true for me to have a real boulangerie,” said Coullet, who looked for a location in the area for two years. 

Le Petit Four treats/ Credit: Courtesy Valerie Coullet

She said Needham has supported Le Petit Four, and she looked for opportunities to open a store here. “For me the town of Needham has been very helpful from the beginning, first with the home business and then with the commercial kitchen and all the approvals,” she said. “It was a unique situation to have a commercial kitchen in a residential zone.”

But it’s the landlords who ultimately decide what businesses go in, and Coullet said she found those in Needham generally do not want to do food. “The landlords are private, they can do whatever they want. If they have a choice between food or a bank or offices they will pick the easiest ones, and I get that. There is a lot of regulation with food and health and safety. So I guess they just don’t want to take the risk.”

Before following her dream to create her own pastries, Coullet, an artisan and self-trained baker, earned degrees in accountancy and organizational management in her native France, which helped prepare her to undertake a business. After coming to the U.S. in 2014, settling in Needham where her husband was relocated for work, she attended The French Pastry School in Chicago and the San Francisco Baking Institute. She started in her home kitchen, eventually expanding to a converted garage, and developed a menu for online orders that includes classic offerings such as croissants, turnovers and pain au chocolat, along with baguettes and specialty rolls, French-style Danish and cookies. 

Coullet will continue her online business with pickups Tuesday through Saturdays until September, and she plans to be at the Needham Farmers Market this summer as she prepares for an October opening of the Wellesley store. 

“Wellesley is a very nice town. It will be a perfect place for me.”

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