Small Business Success Story: Janjou Pâtisserie

Nationally recognized as a James Beard Award finalist, Boise’s Janjou Pâtisserie is enjoying the sweet taste of success.

Malcolm Hong Dec 11, 2020

After working in the semiconductor industry, Moshit Mizrachi-Gabbitas transformed her passion for baking into a career when she opened Janjou Pâtisserie in Boise’s North End in 2013.

After only three years of operation, she became a semifinalist in the Outstanding Baker category for the James Beard Awards — the Oscars of the food world. Mizrachi-Gabbitas was the first Idaho woman to be honored as a semifinalist and she earned the same distinction again in 2020.

Mizrachi-Gabbitas shares her insight on the essential ingredients every small business owner needs to succeed.

What do you want people to know about your small business?

Janjou Pâtisserie provides a personal touch on everything from customer service to the way we create our pastries. I’m proud that we know the individual names for about 90 percent of our customers.

We put the same amount of personalization into our baked goods. We make everything ourselves and pour our heart and soul into every pastry we create. Baking requires great attention to detail, even if you’re intimately familiar with the recipe and techniques.

Janjou Patisserie’s Moshit Mizrachi-Gabbitas
Janjou Patisserie’s Moshit Mizrachi-Gabbitas

What advice would you give to aspiring chefs and restaurant owners?

Because baking is a very demanding profession, it’s important to have a strong passion for the industry. Although I work long, hard days, it doesn’t feel like it because my passion gives me the energy to continue each day.

If you want to be an acclaimed chef or restaurant owner, don’t obsess over landing a fancy title or food network show. Instead, fill your day with activities that inspire you.  

As culinary artists, we are lucky that our jobs are never boring. I’ve been baking for 13 years and I still learn something new every day.

It’s clear you’ve built a loyal customer base — many customers swear your pastries are better than the ones in Paris. How can small business owners build strong relationships with their customers?

Airy, buttery croissants are one of Janjou’s signature pastries.

Everything boils down to the personal care we give each customer. When we welcome customers, we don’t treat them like they’re walking into a business — we treat them as if they’re a guest coming into our home.

I’ve also learned not to be afraid to show vulnerability. If we’re having a hard day, we’ll always be respectful to a customer, but we also won’t put on a happy face and try to hide it. Being authentic helps people relate to us and feel comfortable being themselves.

How have you adjusted your business or business model in light of COVID-19?

When the pandemic hit, we quickly realized that in order to survive, we needed to pivot towards online orders. We made our entire menu available for online orders almost overnight and this bolstered our business during the first wave of lockdowns.  

Because we can only serve customers on our outside patio right now, we have less foot traffic. We’ve used this time to perfect our craft and develop tasty new recipes, and one of our most popular new desserts is gluten free.

I’m very grateful for being able to serve our community this way. I’ve been through tragedy in my life and my community lifted me up. I feel that this is my turn to give back.

What tips do you have for other small businesses seeking to grow?

Although small businesses might feel pressured to grow as quickly as possible, it’s important to pace yourself.

When I first launched my small business, I was cautious. I managed my debt prudently and waited to make larger investments until the value was clear. Try to think four or five years ahead, because having a long-term vision will help you break down the smaller steps to get there.      

I also encourage every small business owner to treat their employees well! They are a valuable asset and investing in them will make a huge difference to your business. Because of the relationships I’ve built with my staff, I’ve been fortunate to have low turnover.

What was your experience working with your banker and Zions Bank on your Paycheck Protection Program loan, and how did it help your business?

In the early days of the pandemic, there was a lot of chaos and confusion. My banker, Shaun Kelley, was like an angel in helping me navigate the Paycheck Protection Program application. I appreciate working with Zions Bank because like my business, they give their customers a personal touch.   

The loan gave my business an additional lifeline during the early days of the pandemic. It helped me retain all my employees and empowered me to support our community during uncertain times.

Looking to start or grow your own small business? Zions Bank offers online business tools including business templates, columns, videos and financial calculators. Our Business Resource Centers in Salt Lake City and Boise provide counseling and training for entrepreneurs.

Ilai’s Classic Kouign Amann is described as “a crispy, caramelized crust on the outside a flaky and tender crumb on the inside.”

Zions Bank’s team of relationship managers can help you find the right SBA loan* for your business. Apply for a business loan online anytime or visit a local Zions Bank branch to learn more.

*Loans subject to credit approval and SBA approval. Terms and conditions apply. See a banker for details.

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