Katie Hymel’s dream of opening up her own bakery and watching it become a reality may be sweeter than the delicious goodies you can get from her cafe’ and bakery.
The Honeydoux Cafe and Bakery is now open for business. The cafe is located at 13100 River Road Suite 130, the new complex they built on the other side of the East Bank Bridge Park.
The cafe is open Monday through Friday from 6:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturdays 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. Folks can order coffee and pastries all day as well as breakfast and lunch. Some of the menu options include soups, salads and sandwiches.
Destrehan native and owner Katie Hymel said opening her own cafe has always been a dream and she did not expect the process to begin so soon.
“The opening Honeydoux came at a completely random time. The space became available and I was asked if I was interested. After a lot of thought and prayer I decided to go for it and achieve my dreams,” Hymel said. “The official birth date of the LLC is March 2017.”
Hymel firmly believes in the idea that if your dreams don’t scare you, then they’re not big enough. For her, it was go big or go home. She is thrilled about opening and serving St. Charles Parish. She hopes Honeydoux can grow into a household name within the community.
“I hope to be able to add a little sweetness to someone’s day,” she said. “I hope to be successful and provide the community with some delicious treats.”
Sweetness is the motif of not only Hymel herself, but her business as well. She felt Honeydoux would be the perfect name for the cafe. Part of that stems from her love of bees as her grandpa used to farm honeybees, which she attributes to why she loves honey so much.
“The name Honeydoux was something I created when playing around with different words. The second half of the word, doux means sweet in French,” she said. “The first half, honey comes from my love of the sweet treat and the fact that I’ve always been interested in bees and how they work.”
You may notice a golden whisk in the logo for the cafe. That is a symbol Hymel claims has been a part of her life for quite some time. In fact, her mother, Danielle, bought Katie a necklace with a golden whisk on it upon graduation from Nicholls State University, where she studied culinary.
“On one of the cooking competitions, the winner received a giant gold whisk as their prize. Ever since then I would tell my mom, ‘One day I’ll win a golden whisk of my own,” Hymel said. “This was a sign that I was even closer to achieving my dreams. I wore the necklace everyday as a constant reminder that my dream is in reach. When deciding what would be my logo for Honeydoux, I couldn’t think of a better symbol. Honeydoux has been a life-long dream and now I finally have my very own golden whisk.”
Most children have all the dreams and ideas for what they want to be when they grow up and some achieve it and others don’t. Interests can change or things just don’t work out. For Katie, she is the little girl living that dream to own her own restaurant. She gives her family credit for how she developed a real passion for cooking.
“Growing up in southern Louisiana, everything we do revolves around food. I can remember as a little girl watching my grandpa make his famous shrimp stew or my grandma working all day and night to stock up on Christmas cookies. I have always loved to be in the kitchen and help out. In my family, everyone gathers in the kitchen and puts their two cents in about what’s cooking and then gathers around a large table and enjoys the meal and each other’s company,” she said. “This is where my love for all things food stems from but the love I continue to have for it comes from the joy that I get to witness on people’s face eat what I have created.”
Because of her experiences in the kitchen, she is excited to share that with others.
“I am excited to share with my customers the food that I have grown up on,” she said. “I can’t wait to be a part of someone’s day whether it be their morning coffee or sweet treats for a special occasion.”
Ever since those early memories, Hymel has been prepping for the idea of running her own business dating as far back as high school. A graduate of THE Destrehan High School, Hymel spent two years at the Satellite Center where she studied Culinary her junior year followed by Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism her senior year.
“This was my first real experience working in a commercial kitchen and putting on dinners and events. In the program, we were taught the basic cooking techniques. We also studied the business side of the restaurant world, learning how to manage employees and price out a menu,” Hymel said. “My senior year, I participated in the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism program. Through this program I learned more about the front of house side of the restaurant and how to communicate with people in a professional way. What people don’t realize is there are many more jobs out there involving food than just being a cook/chef and this program allowed me to explore those careers. I learned how to organize events, correctly email someone, and interview. All skills that have helped me become the person I am today and be as successful as I have.”
From there, Hymel went to THE Nicholls State University to study at the John Folse Culinary Institute, one of the most respected programs in the country. The education learning the ins and outs of the restaurant industry trickled over.
“My education at Nicholls has not only taught me most of what I know about food and the culinary industry but it has helped me make connections with people that will forever be helpful to my success. Even though my concentration was in pastry, I was taught every side of a restaurant. What most people don’t know is that being a Chef is a lot more than just cooking. As a culinary student at Nicholls, I was taught the ins and outs of running a successful restaurant,” Hymel said.” We were taught everything from how to correctly prepare a chicken breast to how to price out a menu. One of the Chefs at Nicholls would always say ‘We’re not here just to teach you how to cook, we’re here to teach you how to be successful managers and business owners.’ During my years at Nicholls, I was given the opportunity to be involved in many dinners and events that the school put on in leadership rolls. I was able to study under and work with many chefs in the industry.”
Hymel has plenty of experience stemming from college where she participated in the Disney College program. She held the title of pastry line cook at Restaurant R’evolution. She also held a job at Weeping Willow cafe during her college years.
Hymel also began an internship at Sucre’ in New Orleans where she eventually landed a full time job for two years. She eventually worked her way up to head of the pastry department.
Even with all the experience Hymel has obtained over the years, she said there will always be a learning curve.
“I have never started my own business or been involved with the start of a new business. It has challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone and put my pride to the side to make sure things get done. I am constantly learning new things and I don’t see that changing much in the future,” she said.
With the support and help of her family, who’s faces you may see upon entering Honeydoux, Hymel is ready to open another family business in St. Charles Parish.
“My family has been the biggest supporters. They have all been helping out in any way they can and are all ready to work,” she said. “They have each be claiming their positions. They are just as excited about this new adventure as I am.”
Hotard Huddle Thoughts
If there is one thing I support in this world, it is local businesses from good people. St. Charles Parish has several of them. I urge everyone reading this to try this place out. Katie’s brother Taylor has been one of my best friends since high school and we met even further back. I have known this family for a long time and they are fantastic people. Their attitude and positive spirits are as welcoming as they come. I think you will really enjoy it! I go there at least once or twice each week to pick up breakfast. The pastries are decadent. The coffee is what you need to kick start your morning. The breakfast is fantastic.