New owners of Bellingham French bakery to change name, keep a similar menu

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 28, 2013 

Gypsies & Ginger Snaps

Valerie Billings-Swayne, left, serves Lee Williams lunch at La Vie En Rose on Holly Street in Bellingham Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. Billings-Swayne and Lydia Mehrtens are the new owners of bakery. They are changing the name to Gypsies & Ginger Snaps, but keeping many of the same items on the menu.


A Bellingham French bakery is about to get a little snappy.

Earlier this month Valerie Billings-Swayne and Lydia Mehrtens took over La Vie en Rose at 111 W. Holly St. They soon will be changing the name to Gypsies & Ginger Snaps, a business they currently operate at 220 E. Maple St., in the alley near the Depot Market Square. While the name is changing, much of the French bakery menu will remain, with the addition of more lunch items and gingersnap cookies. The owners also have introduced a "milk and cookie hour," giving a discount for those interested in an end-of-the-day snack.

"This (taking over La Vie en Rose) is something we're really excited about," said Mehrtens, who at one time was a baker at La Vie en Rose. "This is something I've wanted to do since I was a kid."

Billings-Swayne added that the goal is to make the café atmosphere a little "urban funky."

"It's a great location. We really enjoy being near the Greenhouse," Billings-Swayne said.

The alley café, which is open on weekends, offers a variety of retail items, including jewelry, clothes and home décor and will remain open for the time being. The owners are still deciding what retail component they might put into the Holly Street space, but for now it will have some kitchen and furniture items for sale.

The Holly Street café is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. The company is also running a Kickstarter campaign to help pay for some initial overhead costs.

For further details about Gypsies and Ginger Snaps, visit the company's Facebook page or call 360-715-1839.


The Black Pearl restaurant on Railroad Avenue is reopening this week.

It was shut down a few weeks ago because of a building-related issue, said Nosh Yusufali, whose daughter Laila owns the eatery. That building issue is now resolved, and they are aiming for a Wednesday, Oct. 2, reopening.

No changes will be made to the menu or hours once the restaurant reopens. Regular hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. The restaurant offers Asian cuisine and bubble tea.

Laila Yusufali also has Black Pearl restaurants in the Barkley district and in the Bakerview Fred Meyer retail center.


Carl's Mower & Saw at 6209 Portal Way in Ferndale is hosting its annual Fall Demo Day 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5. Events include a candy hunt for kids, food offerings and a free chainsaw sharpening with the donation of food, which goes to the Project Hope Food Bank in Lynden. For more information, visit

• The operators of Thai House have applied for a state liquor license to put in a new restaurant called Thai House Express at 505 32nd St., Suite 104, near Western Washington University. The applicants are Dale and Nimnual Boe, whose other restaurant is at 187 Telegraph Road, near Bellis Fair.

Retail Tip Sheet runs each Sunday.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or Read his Business Blog at or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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