Opening Soon: Sophie La Gourmande, a Patisserie Cafe in Cleveland Heights

click to enlarge Sophie La Gourmande, a patisserie café, to open soon in Cleveland Hts. - DOUGLAS TRATTNER
Douglas Trattner
Sophie La Gourmande, a patisserie café, to open soon in Cleveland Hts.

For three long years, Bob Sferra has been quietly working behind the scenes to open his dream business. In 2019, the longtime chef, caterer and culinary instructor took over a 1930s-era building on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights that had been vacant for a handful of years. This weekend, he will open the doors for the first time to Sophie La Gourmande (2275 Lee Rd.), which he calls a “patisserie café.”

For the past decade, Sferra, who lives in the neighborhood, has operated Culinary Occasions, a full-service catering company. In many ways, Sophie La Gourmande is a natural extension of that successful endeavor. The café will offer sweet and savory breakfast and lunch items alongside high-end French-style pastries. Many of the items will be prepared and on display for quick grab-and-go service or for enjoyment in the bright and cheerful café.

Up front, a mini marketplace is stocked with prepackaged pastries like biscotti, hand-tempered chocolate bars, seasonal shortbread cookies, and Florentines. Those confections will be joined by pantry items such as Duck Rabbit coffee, Storehouse teas, olive oils and vinegars.

“The market is really where the Sophie brand started,” Sferra explains. “Chef Tom [Francescangeli] expanded the pastry products and that became the Sophie brand that we were selling at retail.”

A lengthy counter will be stocked with baked goods like croissants, pain au chocolat, macarons, palmiers, coffee cake, financiers and heartier items like breakfast danishes and ham-and-cheese buns. At lunch, cheese-topped focaccia, croque monsiers and seasonal quiches will join a roster of pressed sandwiches filled with tuna, egg and tapenade or roasted eggplant, tahini and fig jam. A selection of healthy vegetable-based salads that can be enjoyed hot or cold will also be available.

Everything is made from scratch by hand in kitchens that open both to the dining room and the street through large windows. That kitchen is staffed by a deep bench of chefs, both savory and pastry, who share Sferra’s deep appreciation for the craft.

“It started with me, working for a long time with Parker Bosley when I was a baby chef,” says Sferra. “That idea that you make what’s fresh, you make what’s in season by hand from the beginning. Everyone of these people, that’s their thing. I have the greatest group of people that have so much food integrity.”

That group includes a pastry team comprised of Tom Francescangeli, Ange Lupica and Shanna Stella and a savory team starring Sfarra, Robbie Ackerman, Marie Finch and Blue Keough.


In the rear of the building is a separate but complementary custom cake studio called Cenza, which is owned by Sferra’s niece Haley Sferra, who studied at the French Pastry School.

Sophie will open for a “spring preview” the weekend of April 14. The shop will close to the public for a week or so and do another preview  April 25-27 before taking another pause until it opens for real in early May.

When Sophie does open, it will join an increasingly diverse food and beverage community on Lee Road that includes Mitchell’s Fine Chocolates, Marchant Manor Cheese, Stone Oven Bakery, the Wine Spot, CLE Urban Winery, Boss Dog Brewery, Bottlehouse Brewery and numerous restaurants.

Down the road, Sferra hopes to add a liquor license and to host special dinners and other food-themed events.

click to enlarge Owner Bob Sferra - DOUGLAS TRATTNER
Douglas Trattner
Owner Bob Sferra
click to enlarge Sophie La Gourmande, a patisserie café, to open soon in Cleveland Hts. - DOUGLAS TRATTNER
Douglas Trattner
Sophie La Gourmande, a patisserie café, to open soon in Cleveland Hts.
click to enlarge Some delights from Sophie. - MEGANN GALEHOUSE
Megann Galehouse
Some delights from Sophie.
click to enlarge Sophie La Gourmande, a patisserie café, to open soon in Cleveland Hts. - DOUGLAS TRATTNER
Douglas Trattner
Sophie La Gourmande, a patisserie café, to open soon in Cleveland Hts.
click to enlarge Sophie La Gourmande, a patisserie café, to open soon in Cleveland Hts. - DOUGLAS TRATTNER
Douglas Trattner
Sophie La Gourmande, a patisserie café, to open soon in Cleveland Hts.

About The Author

Douglas Trattner

For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...
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