By Dawn Watson
Since the very beginning, family has been a key ingredient to the success of the Loaves & Fishes brand.
The business began more than 30 years ago, when Anna Pump opened up the Loaves & Fishes Food Store in Sagaponack in 1980 with the support of her husband, Detlaf. In 1994, she and her daughter, Sybille van Kempen, added the Bridgehampton Inn & Restaurant to the fold. Then, in 2003, Ms. van Kempen and her husband, Gerrit, opened the Loaves & Fishes Cookshop. Today, their children all participate in the business. Stefan works at the Food Store, Kyle bartends at the Bridgehampton Inn, and Karina works as a baker for the Store and Inn during her college break in the summer.
A recent move down the street has changed the landscape for the Cookshop, as well as for hamlet of Bridgehampton. The kitchenalia, home goods and entertaining mecca started out on Main Street, just a couple of blocks east of the inn. But approximately three years ago, the van Kempens, who were renting the Main Street retail space, decided it was time to move the shop onto the inn property at 2266 Montauk Highway, which they’ve owned for 20 years. Last week, the Cookshop opened its doors at its new permanent home.
It cost approximate $1.5 million to erect the 4,000-square-foot building, which houses 22,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor and five additional lodging rooms for the inn upstairs. The move has already paid off for the business though, says Ms. van Kempen, who added that in addition to not having to pay rent any more, she’s also now got plenty of parking—24 dedicated spaces—for customers.
“It’s great to be under one roof,” she said during a tour of the property on Sunday, just one weekend after the store’s grand opening at its new digs.
“We rolled out the grass carpet, literally, just last week,” she laughed.
There have been a few other changes with the move, though nothing significant with the actual product offerings, she reports. But the display space is better, she adds, especially for glassware, which can now be presented on its own devoted wall. The Cookshop still carries the same types of products—hand-curated kitchen necessities and home goods by locally and internationally acclaimed manufacturers, artisans and designers. And devotees can still find the cookware, utensils, glass and crystal, tableware, flatware, linens, kitchen and table accessories, collectibles, and cookbooks that they have always loved at the new store, she says.
“Our mission has not changed,” says Ms. van Kempen. We are still standing behind our products; we have always believed in quality that you only have to buy once. And we believe in the power of personal relationships, with our suppliers and with our customers. That’s what makes the difference.”
The family business is so dedicated to one-on-one service, they travel abroad themselves to handpick products to sell. The same personal approach is used during the sales experience, the owner says. Even if the customer can’t physically get to the store. Ms. van Kempen reports that the Cookshop offers a Facetime shopping experience for online purchasers. Customers can virtually visit the store and have employees literally “walk” them through the merchandise and help them select items.
“It’s unheard of, I know,” Ms. van Kempen says. “But that’s how important it is that we stay in touch with our customers.”
Building a community has always been important to her and her family, she reports. And now having the Inn and the Cookshop sitting side by side is the perfect example of that.
“We wanted to create a destination. To add to and extend the town, and provide a place for people to come and shop, and eat, and stay,” she said. “Helping to build and contribute to this community. This is the dream.”
The Loaves & Fishes Cookshop is located at 2266 Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton. For more information, call (631) 537-6066 or landfcookshop.com.