CHARLESTON, S.C.–Le Creuset has officially opened its new facility here today, across the Ashley River from its former location in downtown Charleston. Its new facility is almost 9,000-square-feet large, and includes a working kitchen, a gym and a deck—and it sits on a marina.
“It’s a public space we never had for the brand,” said Will Copenhaver, director of marketing communications, giving HFN a tour of the facility last week. “This is a new type of space for us,” he said, as there’s nothing like it within Le Creuset worldwide.
Incorporating the French word for workshop, the L’Atelier de Le Creuset will serve as the company’s North American Marketing and Culinary Center and represents a multi-million dollar investment in the Charleston community. It not only provides much-needed room for its growing marketing, retail and web staff, but now allows the company to host events and start doing more community relations, Copenhaver said, such as bringing in local and national chefs to do demonstrations, or for working with local chapters of the Food Bank for cause-related programs.
The working kitchen, designed by SieMatic and with Miele appliances, can accommodate 25 seated people or about 80 standing, he said. And, recognizing today’s needs, it’s wired for filming. “We’re moving into the content production game,” he said, as consumers want recipes, product details and more. “We want to feed that channel.”
Le Creuset touches are found throughout the facility, such as the reception area (shown), which uses closeups of its cookware colors to create a decorative wall element. Large Le Creuset French ovens are used as sinks in the bathrooms. Some corporate environments are “stuffy,” Copenhaver said. “We didn’t want [our new facility] to feel like that … Le Creuset is about fun and joy.”
The 1,500-square-foot deck is another spot where the company can hold events, with views of downtown Charleston and the marina.
Copenhaver added that Le Creuset will be able to accommodate chefs at the new facility. “We wanted to have a space that chefs really feel comfortable in.” Next to the kitchen is a prep kitchen, and a changing room is available upstairs. Outside, plans for fruit trees and an herb garden are in the works.
The company also recently expanded its distribution center in Early Branch, S.C., by 200,000 square feet. Today, Le Creuset employs more than 600 people in the United States, including 120 employees in Early Branch and 28 employees in Charleston.—Andrea Lillo