Larsen’s Bakery joins Brooklyn Square in Vanse
Mona Anita K. Olsen
Brooklyn Square in Vanse, Norway, welcomed a new addition in October 2020, Larsen’s Bakery. Situated across from the American goods store, Trunken, it opens up the opportunity for a solid “American experience” outing of both a meal and shopping in southern Norway.
Larsen’s Bakery is the newest addition to the Larsen’s business portfolio in the American Lista area. The American Lista is an area of Farsund that reflects a strong influence of American culture and experiences as a result of the large amount of migration of citizens to Brooklyn, N.Y., during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
The Larsen’s team has a bakery/café in Farsund called Larsen’s Bakeri and a wholesale location with partnership with Joker, a grocery store in Borhaug. People in the area can find Larsen’s Bakery products in a variety of local stores. They can also order specific products for upcoming events they might host.
A taste of America
Larsen’s Bakery offers more seating than the Farsund location, with both cold and hot food options, a smoothie bar, and coffee options with a distinctive American twist. At the Vanse location, you can also purchase products from the wholesale portion of the business to take home or bring as a gift to a friend’s house.
At Larsen’s Bakery in Vanse, a customer can enjoy a “taste of America” in one of two themed spaces. The main entrance space has an American diner concept. The second dining area is more of a mixed dining and lounge space, with a mix of couches and tables that are surrounded by large photos of Norwegians who spent time in Brooklyn and photos of the family’s baking origins. Team members have uniforms that are diner-inspired and brought in directly from California, which further sets the ambiance of the café experience.
While you order and pay at the main counter, there is direct service to each table. The menu items all have an American flair to them and include items from pancakes to bagels, pies to smoothies.
All in the family
While the concept of an American-style bakery and café is new to the area, the Larsens are not new to the area or to baking. In fact, the husband and wife duo that launched this concept in 2020, have been together for many years.
Solveig and Kim Larsen originally found love in a bakery when Kim was doing an apprenticeship. They have been a couple ever since. Kim also comes from a long history in the baking business and ended up taking over the wholesale portion of his father’s baking business.
It was true serendipity in timing when the space in Brooklyn Square became available in late 2020, as the Larsens had wanted to open another location but had needs that they wanted to prioritize in the selection of a space. When the former tenant (a food outlet) moved out of the space, the Larsens worked on renovations to redesign the space themselves.
The business operations of this new location are run by the family and Larsen’s Bakery operations. Their daughters, Melissa and Isabel, are driving concept development moving forward. Inspired by different Instagram feeds of bakers from the United States, the sisters handle the innovation and new product launches within the café. Solveig, Melissa, and Isabel, stressed the importance of the culture of the team and having a passion for what they do as the main drivers for their success.
Despite the continuing impact of the coronavirus, both locally and around the world, the café maintains a consistent flow of customers. While the now normal hand-sanitizing stations and social-distancing rules are practiced in the café, there is still space to be able to engage with some coffee and sweets with friends and family.
With the upcoming warming of the area with the turn of the seasons, the Larsens team is thinking about how to continue to engage and further develop their outreach to the current Norwegian and tourist markets (depending on how the regulations will stand for inbound access to Norway because of COVID-19).
Beyond that, the family sees much more opportunity despite the challenges of operating during the pandemic. New location options, additions to the existing sites, new menu items, pop-up concepts have all reached the brainstorming table.
To learn more about Larsen’s Bakery, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Larsens-Bakery-107223441120243, or check out the Farsund store www.facebook.com/Larsens-BakeriKaf%C3%A9-332582817549991.
This article originally appeared in the Feb. 12, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.