Francisco Arias

Francisco Arias left the corporate world in 2010 to pursue his dream of owning an artisanal bakery.   That dream became Le Mouton Noir Bakehouse.  Find out what makes it “different from the herd”.  Photographed at Le Mouton Noir in Tampa’s Channel District.  Update: Le Mouton Noir closed its doors in October 2014.

Tell us about Le Mouton Noir Bakehouse.  What makes it special?  We are bakery in Tampa’s Channel District.  We mix our bread from scratch, portion it out and shape it by hand, and bake it fresh every day. We also have our own sourdough starter that we feed every day and use it as the sole leavening agent in our sourdough bread.  We also use natural flavors such as real vanilla beans and almond paste and we even make our own vanilla extract by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol for months.  We may even sell our own vanilla extract at some point. 

The Channel District is finally coming into its own.  How has Le Mouton Noir become part of the scene?  All of the restaurants and businesses in the area help make it an attractive place to live and work. Le Mouton Noir provides an comfortable and relaxing place for people to meet up for business or personal reasons.  People to come down to for have breakfast, lunch, and dinner when they don’t feel like preparing something at home.  Being part of the community is very important to us so we offer our space to local organizations for meetings and  events.  And of course we are making some of Tampa’s best baked goods right here in the heart of the Channel District!

Are you a “Black Sheep”?  I’ve always thought of myself as a black sheep, but I’m not sure if anyone else has ever considered me one.  I like the idea of being a bit different.

Where did you discover your love of baking?  I have always loved the idea of baking. I remember being a kid, about 6 or 8 years old, and my idea of fun was baking a cake out of a box.

When you can break away from LMNB where do you like to hang out?  In my bed…because I’m usually exhausted!  When I get a few days off I like to travel the world.

You have been fortunate to have travelled all over the world.  What is the farthest you have ever travelled from home?  Distance-wise I am not sure, but the furthest I’ve ever FELT from home was in Kathmandu, Nepal.

What makes you happy when the plane lands back in Tampa?  Sleeping in my own bed, seeing friends and family. I usually start planning my next trip as soon as I get back to Tampa.

You left the hotel industry to start your own business.  What advice do you have for other aspiring, young entrepreneurs?  Think really hard about what it is you want to do and always have a back-up plan. At the same time, you should think big, even if you start small, you should have long-term goals and wishes for the future. Also, be prepared to lose a lot of sleep and work more than you’ve ever thought possible. I liken having your own business to having a baby; you always have to be ready to drop everything to take care of it, day or night.

Tell us a few of your favorite dishes and places to eat around Tampa BayI like Shrimp and Company in Ybor City for their Florida Steam Pot and Pho Queen in Clearwater for their Vermicelli Bowls.  But my guilty pleasure is a loaf of sourdough bread and some butter from LMN!

You’re originally from El Salvador.  What should people know about the country?  It is a beautiful and lush tropical paradise with an overpopulation and poverty problem. Anyone who is up for beautiful beaches and friendly people and doesn’t mind an off-the-beaten track destination should definitely visit.  Our recipe for Alfajores is one I brought with me from El Salvador.