Furloughed couple float their new bakery business on the Regent’s Canal with home-made pastries
- Credit: Callum McInerney-Riley
A couple who were hit by the lockdown emergency working in catering have set up their own “floating bakery” business with a narrowboat on the Regent’s Canal.
Jeremy Huguet and Lindsay Morel-Huguet have started their authentic French “Boulangerie Flottante” selling bread and pastries baked on board their houseboat to passers-by and now taking orders online for delivery.
“The lockdown gave us the chance to pursue our passion,” Jeremy said. “We’ve had more time to think about what to do in life and have the opportunity to do it.”
His houseboat bakery is currently moored appropriately alongside the Narrowboat pub near the Angel, off City Road, but he plans other stops at Broadway Market in London Fields, then Victoria Park and onto Mile End and Limehouse.
The 30-year-old used to sweat it out working 16-hour shifts as chef at Covent Garden’s Clos Maggiore, but was furloughed when the lockdown began.
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Jeremy started watching online baking tutorials when supermarkets were low on supplies and taught himself patisserie skills, then started supplying their neighbours with bread.
But word spread like butter and the queue outside their houseboat went into overdrive.
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His wife recalls: “We offered the bread free while Jeremy mastered his art. But the neighbours soon insisted on paying.
“News of our authentic French bakery travelled quickly along the canal and soon we had people knocking on the boat at 1am looking for baguettes!”
They now have four motorbike riders delivering their crafted bread and pastries across London.
The couple had dreamt of their own business before the lockdown, but their long working hours meant they barely saw each other, let alone have time to plan such a venture.
Their floating bakery has a classic French menu of pastries, baguettes, focaccia, sourdough and rye breads. But they make sure it is Covid-19 compliant by serving passing customers through their hatch window to limit face-to-face contact and having masks and gloves for their delivery drivers.
They are among nearly 200,000 start-ups since the UK went into lockdown on March 24, an O2 Business analysis reveals. Researchers noticed a trend in small businesses upgrading their technology during lockdown, with more demand for cloud software.
It suggests that Franco-British “entrepreneurial spirit” hasn’t been quashed by the pandemic, says 02. It is buoyant — especially on the Regent’s Canal.