Little Blue Owl Baking Company Delights Foodies in Narberth

It wasn’t easy following in the footsteps of Narberth’s La Petit Mitron. But Little Blue Owl Baking is fast becoming a foodie favorite.

Every first-time business owner makes mistakes. It’s how you rectify those errors that make the difference between success and failure. Little Blue Owl Baking Company owners Angela and Andrew Ling are open about the fact that they should have changed their name sooner.

Located at the corner of Narberth’s Haverford and Essex Avenue, Little Blue Owl is the successor to the vaunted La Petit Mitron. Run for decades by a Lyonnaise French couple that brought a traditional European atmosphere to Narberth, La Petit Mitron had such an impact on the neighborhood that the Lings decided to keep the name when they took over in September 2022, even though they changed the interior, recipes and menu.

“Everyone just ended up being really confused,” Andrew says, adding that people would often ask him, “‘Why don’t you make any of the same things?’”

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“I completely regretted it,” Angela agrees.

Little Blue Owl sits at the corner of Haverford and Essex Avenues at the old location of La Petit Mitron.
Little Blue Owl sits at the corner of Haverford and Essex Avenues at the old location of La Petit Mitron.

It’s not an unheard of lapse in judgment. The Lings are bakers first and foremost, not business analysts, and that fact shows in their pastries. Despite the change from a traditional French atmosphere to a more modern, sleek interior, their pastries leave little to be desired.

Soft on the outside and flaky on the inside with just the right amount of butter, their croissants are some of the best anywhere in the Philadelphia area. Once the Lings ditched La Petit Mitron for their own moniker, they began creating their own legacy.

After meeting at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, their paths diverged. Andrew went on to work for Thomas Keller at Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner Center while Angela worked for Daniel Boulud at his eponymous restaurant Daniel. She later became the executive pastry chef at Epicerie Boulud.

The couple moved back to Andrew’s hometown of Philadelphia pre-COVID and worked in Michael Schulson’s commissary kitchen together. When the couple had their first child, they decided it was time to make a move to the Main Line. 

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At the same time, La Petit Mitron’s asking price finally dropped to a point where the Lings felt comfortable taking over. They came into the shop and made it their own, changing stucco walls and faux pink and brown brickwork to fit a blue and eggshell-white theme.

Little Blue Owl moved away from the La Petit Mitron moniker after a rocky first few months.
Little Blue Owl moved away from the La Petit Mitron moniker after a rocky debut.

“It was very French,” Andrew says of La Petit Mitron.

Despite the fact that Little Blue Owl is, by design, a French-inspired bakery, the Lings are not French. Andrew grew up in Philadelphia’s suburbs, his father a doctor on the Main Line, while Angela was raised in Hong Kong. This, however, gives these two expertly trained bakers unique insight into the recipes and flavors that comprise several cultures.

Because Little Blue Owl is considered partially American, it gives the Lings the freedom to expand on established concepts. With ideas and backgrounds in so many different cultures between Andrew and Angela, they use every tool at their disposal to create an innovative product that straddles the line of traditionality.

“When you say French-American, it pretty much means you can do whatever you want, because American [culture] is already pan-global,” Andrew posits. “So you can take French techniques and add American ingredients.” Even Asian influences find their spotlight at Little Blue Owl.

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With two established minds working behind the scenes on their own respective strong suits, both Andrew and Angela are able to use their decades of experience to create what comes easiest to them.

Starting from scratch every morning, Andrew focuses on laminated dough while Angela works on pastries, but their specialty is viennoiserie. It’s a French-style baked good that includes croissants, brioche, pain au chocolate and more.

A selection of pastries and viennoiseries from Little Blue Owl.
A selection of pastries and viennoiserie from Little Blue Owl.

“I don’t think there’s anyone, especially out in the suburbs, that does better viennoiserie,” Andrew says.

One of Little Blue Owl’s many hallmarks is the savory aspect of their pastries. Cheap French imitations will load their croissants with sugar in an attempt to recreate flavor using lesser ingredients.

“We’re trying to keep everything well-rounded and interesting instead of just sweet,” Andrew explains.

As more and more customers become used to the fact that Little Blue Owl is its own initiative separate from La Petit Mitron, the Lings are finding that their patrons are more satisfied.

“Every week we see people saying, ‘Oh, my friend from Narberth recommended that I come.’ That’s super gratifying because you don’t tell your friends to go to a bakery that you don’t like,” Andrew says.

They’re earning the trust of a community that at one point didn’t believe two non-Europeans could ever properly take over a French bakery, but time and time again Andrew and Angela have witnessed opinions change in an instant. All it takes are the tastiest viennoiserie around the Main Line.

The Little Blue Owl Baking Company
207 Haverford Ave., Narberth

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