A hidden gem for tourists and a relaxing stop-off for surfers and hippies, Margaret River Bakery is a home-away-from-home for all who want a good croissant and a cuppa. We catch up with third generation baker Lyndan Egberts to talk about finding that lovin’ feeling.
Don’t be fooled by Margaret River Bakery Café’s unassuming exterior. Inside, its mismatched crockery, chandeliers, fragrant bouquets and well-loved couches exude all the cosiness of a grandmother’s living room, with the added quirkiness of an antique collectors treasure trove.
One thing is certain, however, this business is no shrinking violet. It’s a perfect match for the bakery’s eclectic clientèle, an easy-going mix of local bohemians, beach babes, families and grey nomads.
And, the bakery’s owners certainly know their customer base. Husband and wife team, Lyndon and Marcelle Egberts, have been the proud owners of Margaret River Bakery Café for the past 15 years, continuing the building’s 40-year-long legacy as the community’s local bakery.
While the premises might look vastly different today to what it did back in the ‘70s, its old-fashioned ethos remains.
“We’re all about good, fresh and excellent value for-money-products made with love and passion,” Lyndon says.
“The bakery has evolved into what you see today because we went away from a lot of the franchising trends in the bakeries and coffee shops found in the big cities. We’re the complete opposite: a totally unique bakery café with lots of personality.”
Locals are clearly on board with the bakery’s free-spirit. In fact, one franchised bakery set up in town had to close its doors, with Lyndon saying, “that vibe simply doesn’t work here.”
“We’ve put a lot of passion into what we have done throughout the years and our staff buys into this. So, we have a really great team environment… and the community eats it up!”
The locals aren’t the only fans of Margaret River Bakery Café. Lyndon says the region’s booming tourism market constantly brings new faces in through the door, particularly when surfing competitions come to town.
“We just had the Margaret River Pro down here at the end of April, so we got the world’s top 20-30 surfers in the area, including Aussie surfing pro Julian Wilson. It’s massive for the community and great for business, particularly when they come in to have a chat,” he says.
“There was one point where we had the top five surfers in the world in the bakery all at once, which was very cool! They were really genuine and were happy to sit down and sign autographs.”
A third generation baker, the trade was passed down from Lyndon’s grandfather to his father, who emigrated from the Netherlands in the early 1950s. While the menu is decidedly modern, links to the old world are obvious in the traditional sourdough selection, and the nostalgic mid-century knick-knacks. There are also photos of the Egberts bakers – Lyndon’s brothers included – proudly on display.
“We’ve gone for an olden-days look, with well-loved couches, a mix of kitschy furniture and vintage bits and pieces around the place without looking too cliché, because it’s important for us to keep the vibe genuine, not gimmicky,” Lyndon says.
“My wife is responsible for all the decorations around the place. She’s definitely the brains behind the front of the business. That’s what makes us such a great team: she does all the buying and sets the place up, while I run production and out the back.”
The bakery’s pride and joy is its croissants. Almond, chocolate and plain varieties fly-off-the-shelves every day, along with a simple, but perfected, selection of Danish, escargot and morning buns. Gluten-free and ‘raw’ cakes, muffins and salted caramel doughnuts are also popular.
With only four-or-so bakers in the production team, the fact every Margaret River Bakery pastry and bread product is made by hand is impressive. However, Lyndon says “baking the right way” isn’t that difficult once you get into the swing of things.
“Making everything in-house with real butter, by hand, is a really big thing for us. Even though it’s time consuming, we pride ourselves on the quality of our offering,” he says.
“People generally think they don’t have the time to make their own croissants, but once you get into the rhythm of production, you realise it’s not actually that difficult and that buying frozen products just doesn’t compare.”
While bread isn’t a great seller in the bakery-café, it certainly comes into its own at the Margaret River Farmers’ Market, held in town every Saturday. The team bakes a full range of sourdough including a plain sourdough, an olive and red onion sourdough baguette, a grain sourdough, a sugar-free fruit loaf sourdough, a rye meal sourdough and Lyndon’s favourite: an apricot and cranberry sourdough.
“The farmers’ market is fantastic exposure for our brand. The bakery itself is focused more on breakfast food and French pastries, so the bread offering at the markets really shows off our passion for traditional, artisan bakery methods,” Lyndon says.
“We don’t really advertise much anymore – we don’t really need to! Everyone knows we are here through our popularity at the farmers’ markets and our social media presence on Facebook and Instagram.”
When asked if expanding the business was on the horizon, Lyndon certainly didn’t rule the idea out. But, much like the evolution of the bakery-café itself, growth would have to be an organic process.
“This business is based on passion, and you can’t do that when your time is divided,” he says.
“You have to stay true to your customers and keep up the quality and the service they have grown to love.
“When we took over the business 15 years ago we knew it would be a long, hard road. And, it has been! But the journey has been immensely rewarding.
“To have visitors like we do, and the loyalty we do, we must be doing something right. We love it.”