Spokane Journal of Business

Beard Papa’s cream puff shop opens in Spokane Valley

Japan-based franchise pastry operation named for its bearded founder

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A Spokane franchisee for Japan-based cream puff franchise Beard Papa’s has opened its first Inland Northwest store at 4808 E. Sprague, in Spokane Valley.

Marc Bryant and Sawako Hiraoka, who are husband and wife, are owners of the store through Hiraoka’s company, Klia LLC.

The Valley Beard Papa’s store has eight employees and four family-member volunteers. Bryant plans to hire a few more employees once Beard Papa’s is more established here. He also hopes to establish a mobile version of Beard Papa’s, as he wants to sell the pastries at events, such as Hoopfest.

Two other Beard Papa’s stores in Washington state are located along the Interstate 5 corridor, in Seattle and in Lynnwood.

Cream puff pastry shell flavors include original, Oreo cookie crumble éclair, strawberry éclair, green tea éclair, and churro éclair. Flavors for the cream filling include vanilla, chocolate, and green tea. In addition to cream puffs, Beard Papa’s offers a few dessert options such as mini cheesecakes and lava cakes. Prices for cream puffs start at $3.75.

Bryant says he and Hiraoka have aspired to bring the sweet, cream-filled pastry dessert franchise to the Spokane area for nearly two decades.

Hiraoka is from Kagoshima, Japan, and was familiar with the Beard Papa’s franchise. When she and Bryant were in downtown Seattle about 17 years ago, the two discovered a Beard Papa’s kiosk in the Uwajimaya Asian market.

“My wife went crazy. She was like, ‘Oh my God, I haven’t seen Beard Papa’s in America, I’ve always seen it in Japan and other countries,’” Bryant says. “So, we got the Beard Papa’s. I was immediately hooked. She already was hooked.”

Bryant says they didn’t have the ability to bring Beard Papa’s to Washington then.

“We wanted to find out more about the franchise opportunity, but at the time, with us being young 20-year-olds, we weren’t ready for it,” he says.

Bryant works in Spokane Valley for Patrick Gray American Family Insurance. Hiraoka has spent the past 15 years working in various positions at The Wave restaurant in downtown Spokane. 

Bryant and Hiraoka reached out to Beard Papa’s headquarters in August to propose establishing a store here. Bryant says their timing was perfect, as the Japanese company is in the middle of a push to start more U.S. locations and has opened five stores in the U.S. in the past four months. 

The name of the store comes from the original bakery owner, Yuji Hirota. He became known to his regulars as “Beard Papa” for his grandfatherly attitude and white beard. According to the Beard Papa website, he decided to create a pastry that resembled his fluffy beard, and chose cream puffs. The cream puffs became popular quickly, and the first Beard Papa’s was established in Osaka in 1999. Now owned by Osaka-based Muginoho Co. Ltd., Beard Papa’s has more than 400 stores in 15 countries and territories. Its U.S headquarters is in Torrance, California. 

Bryant says the Beard Papa’s Valley space had been vacant for more than a decade. The commercial suite previously housed a Radio Shack. Before that, it was occupied by a Schuck’s Auto Supply store.

Clayton, Washington-based Timber Commercial Contractors LLC handled much of the remodeling work, including laying the flooring, erecting walls, and installing commercial ovens, Bryant says.

The Spokane Valley store is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Small Bites

Russell Mann, president and founding partner of Hayden-based Bombastic Brewing LLC, has bought out his two partners in the company and is now its sole owner.

The terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed.

Last spring, the company announced it had inked distribution deals to sell its products in Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Utah. In June, Bombastic won three medals at the North American Brewers Association’s International Beer and Cider Awards—a gold, a silver, and a bronze. 

“I’m looking to build on the momentum of these wins and our expansion,” Mann says.

He also hopes to expand into Oregon soon.

Launched in 2016, Bombastic Brewing is located at 11100 N. Airport Drive, in Hayden.

Virginia Thomas
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Reporter Virginia Thomas has worked at the Journal since 2017 and covers the health care industry. As a reporter, she loves learning about Spokane's many growing industries. She enjoys traveling with her husband, snuggling with her cats, and cross stitching.

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