When French pastry chef Gregory Doyen opened MOD, his take-out bakery on Prince Street in SoHo in New York City in mid-December 2023, it brought back memories of the success of fellow French chef’s Dominque Ansel’s famed cronut, his donut/croissant creation. It debuted in 2013 a couple of blocks away on Spring Street and became a viral sensation, leading to long lines up the block due to its producing only a limited number daily.
In many ways Doyen is trying to achieve what baseball great Yogi Berra once called déjà vu all over again.
Doyen calls it MOD because it introduces a “multi-layered original dessert,” combining a brownie with a cookie, and using all natural ingredients and proving that he has a knack for clever acronyms. The base layer, he says, looks like a cookie and then “you go deeper within and reach an increasing level of chewiness.”
The recipe he concocted creates a “moist dessert,” he says, and what differentiates it are he uses no artificial ingredients of any kind, no chemicals, and each MOD is about 325 calories, not excessive by French pastry standards.
MODs come in eight flavors: peanut butter and jelly, matcha with white chocolate, walnut with dark chocolate, red velvet with dark chocolate and raspberry and pecan caramel. He’s working on a mini size, but those aren’t available yet.
A new French pastry shop MOD has created a new brownie/cookie combo out of a bakeshop in SoHo that could lead to more MODs in the future.
Ansel Had Little Influence on Him
Asked if he opened his shop in SoHo to replicate Ansel’s success, he says he wasn’t influenced by Ansel at all. Instead he chose SoHo for a variety of reasons including its “artistic atmosphere, fashionable foot traffic, historic charm, culinary diversity, trendsetting environment.”
And New York is where he met Edward Geyman, his business partner, who is also the CEO of Carvart, a design and construction company. They met through a mutual friend, on, of all places a New York City subway car on the #1 train. They are now 50/50 partners and don’t have any other investors.
Geyman says that SoHo is the perfect neighborhood for a French bakery because it’s so reminiscent of Paris, establishing what he deems as a “French connection.”
A Chef on Duty
Not only are the MODs appealing, but Doyen is there on-site most days, wearing his chef’s apron, talking to customers, answering their questions, creating an experience that transcends the desserts themselves, Geyman suggests.
Doyen, a 38-year-old, native of Burgundy, France, graduate of Alain Ducasse’s Academy, has cooked in global locations in Moscow and Taiwan, but chose New York as the place for his original recipe because “the mix of cultures here is my inspiration. Choosing New York was intentional—it’s where global culinary trends thrive.”
Doyen says the target market that MOD aims at is extremely eclectic ranging from “sweets-loving children to seasoned foodies with sophisticated palates.”
It’s also selling a variety of hot and cold drinks to accompany desserts. And it offers a flavor of the month including S’Mores, for December, which are hand-torched marshmallows. Coming soon are a variety of coffee drinks.
Don’t Expect a Seat
And his store is quite compact, measuring 400-square feet, and take-out only, with no indoor or outdoor seating. If you want to eat a MOD, it’s to-go only, though they will be installing two or three high-top counter seats soon.
Therefore, Doyen says, “Off-premises sales play a crucial role in expanding our reach and satisfying customers who prefer to eat at home.” So far it’s pick-up only, but third-party delivery starts after the first of the year.
Like Ansel, Doyen is also a savvy social-media marketer. And he notes that MODs look “great on Instagram, and camera-influencers have been flocking here since day one.” In a world of Instagram and Tik-Tok, French desserts have to look appealing and taste good too.
When this reporter opened up the MOD box, his wife replied, “Looks like a work of art.” They’re light and tasty, with delectable chocolate (though this reporter isn’t a food critic).
Since MOD recently opened, Yelp contained only one review, which wasn’t flattering. J.D. from San Francisco thought the MOD was “overpriced at $7.50 a cookie” and said it was “baked off-site and wasn’t warm. They need to reduce the price to $4,” he said.
Geyman admits that after reading J.D.’s Yelp review the team had a meeting to discuss what to do about it. Their conclusion was, based on using premiere natural ingredients, that price was acceptable. Currently, MODs are baked off-site, but they stay fresh because they’re moist for four to five hours, so transporting them hasn’t been an issue. In the future, baking them may be moved on site.
While Geyman says they “didn’t start with a multi-million-dollar budget and have no plans to open 30 locations,” he also cites that “they’re trying to build a brand, via its product and website, and our plan is to take this brand and roll it out.” He envisions opening more company-owned bakeries, and there has already been interest from overseas.
“But first we want to take our time, get this right, get our service right, and Gregory is also working on ice-cream recipes,” Geyman reveals.
Asked the keys to their success, Geyman replies: 1) Quality of the product, 2) Creating an experience within the store, of meeting the chef in person, 3) Having the right team in place.