Copenhagen Pastry announced its arrival in Culver City , and after just two weeks, owner Karen Hansen is already starting to recognize regular customers. A week ago, she said, a young man came in to her shop and left with a bag full to the brim with pastries, only to return an hour and a half later.
"He had eaten all of the pastries and said his girlfriend would be angry if he didn't bring some back," she said, laughing.
To celebrate the shop's success and toast to its future, the bakery held a grand opening party Sunday afternoon. In a small parking lot next to the store employees served customers free samples of its most popular pastries: the Water Kringle (comparable to the taste of a cinnamon bun, but with a lighter texture); the Copenhagen (custard-filled) and the Kringle (almond-coated). Customers trickled in and out to purchase the shop's wide variety of other selections, such as the handcrafted rye bread of Head Baker Henrik Gram.
Both Gram and Hansen were born and raised in Denmark. Gram grew up working at a Danish bakery, and Hansen grew up eating Danish baked goods. She moved to the United States in the 1980s, and was working for a photo advertising agency in Culver City until about a year ago, when she developed the concept for a pastry shop.
The bakery's location on Washington Boulevard just a few blocks from the entrance to the 405 freeway, was a strategic business choice on Hansen's part.
"We want people to come from not just Culver City but the beach areas, the Westside, all over," she said. "If there's one thing we know, it's that people will drive for good pastries, especially authentic Danish pastries."
Hansen said Culver City businesses and residents have welcomed the pastry shop to the neighborhood.
"With a local business, you want the neighborhood to be behind you," she said as she turned to greet some members of the fire department that had stopped by to congratulate her on the opening.
Hansen visited the fire department with a box of pastries a few days after the bakery's soft opening. The box was empty within 20 minutes of her delivery, fireman Robert Kelley said.
"They're the best pastries I've ever had, and I've been around for a while so that's saying a lot," Kelley said.
Americans are developing a taste for Danish pastries, said Marianne Jeffers, a close friend of Hansen and fellow Dane.
"When I came here from Denmark in 1977, you couldn't find good pastries anywhere. Now Americans love Danish pastries," Jeffers said. "As a Dane, let me tell you, these are true Danish pastries."
Copenhagen Pastry is located at 11113 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232. It is open during the week from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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