By Andrea Lillo
For a brand with such a long history and iconic status, Le Creuset didn’t have a U.S. facility befitting of the brand—until now. Formerly housed in a small office in downtown Charleston, Le Creuset has moved across the Ashley River to its own brand-new facility that is almost 9,000 square feet, includes a working kitchen, a gym, deck—and it’s on the waterfront.
“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 before it officially opened last month. “This is a new type of space for us.”
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 the growing marketing, retail and web staff, but also allows the company to host events, whether that’s bringing in local and national chefs for cooking demonstrations or working with local chapters of such organizations as the Food Bank for cause-related programs.
The facility’s kitchen, designed by SieMatic and with Miele appliances, can accommodate 25 seated people or about 80 standing, Copenhaver 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.” It can also be used for cooking classes—an important consideration as Charleston is one of the top U.S. destinations for bridal showers, he said.
“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.
Le Creuset touches are found throughout the facility, such as the reception area, 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 is clearly inspired by the new location, and has a host of other possible ideas, such as having cruises, given its neighbor is a marina. As well as others: “I’m pushing for a work hammock,” he joked.