Loved by the Community


Gateau Monique bakes up thousands of treats every week—each one a work of art and heart

By Karen Hendricks  |  Photography by Casey Martin

Red velvet cupcakes might be the first to catch your eye—they’re one of the most colorful treats inside Littlestown bakery Gateau Monique. 

Like works of art, each cupcake is topped with puffs of fresh Chantilly cream, bright strawberries and blueberries, edible flowers of yellow and violet, plus dainty green sprigs of micro lemon thyme. 

But there’s so much more—pastries, scones and muffins, coffee and tea, cases offering local eggs, cheeses and milk.

“I wanted the bakery to have this sense of a small family business, that this is our livelihood, and walking in here is like walking into our home. You’re very welcome, and you can leave the stress of your day by having a coffee and a pastry,” says Monique Washirapunya, 43. She is, of course, “the” Monique, the owner of Gateau Monique, French for “Cakes, in Monique’s style.” 

Customers often say that stepping inside Gateau Monique reminds them of a little European bakery. And that makes Monique proud, because she believes baking can transport and connect customers to their memories. That’s what it does for her.

In her 20s, she had the opportunity to travel throughout Europe, to France and Spain. But it was a little shop in Greece that especially made an impression.

“It was a tiny shop, and when you walked in, it smelled like honey and nuts,” says Monique, gesturing to show that the fragrance filled the air. “Their entire case was filled with pastries—varieties of the day—and them handing you a pastry felt like they were handing you an extension of their life. It tasted like so much had been baked into that. It was very memorable, and I’m trying to emulate that.”

Today, 10 years after she first founded Gateau Monique, her bakery has grown through several iterations and found a new home of prominence—directly on Littlestown’s town square. While she’s constantly surprised at these tangible signs of success, and the hundreds of baked goods that fly off her shelves, she seems to have baked up an intangible, magical ingredient too—a whiff of that experience she had in Greece.

“I love when customers share their stories over a cup of coffee,” says Monique. “And then when they leave, they often say, ‘Stepping in here made my day.’” A big smile fills her face, and you can tell it makes her day, too.

On the Square

When you step through Gateau Monique’s doors, you’re stepping through Littlestown history. The building is more than 100 years old, built around 1921. It originally housed the Littlestown National Bank. 

But for about 50 years, until recently, it housed Littlestown’s government offices. Monique’s first tiny shop is across the street. Monique remembers approaching the borough council and explaining her dream of opening a small business. The place where that long council table once stood, through a twist of fate, is now inside her second bakery.

Local builder Harry McKean purchased the property after it sat vacant through the pandemic. 

“I wanted it to spur the downtown—this square is what everyone sees as Littlestown,” he says. 

He offered Monique the opportunity to custom build, to her specifications, a brand-new bakery space. As he tore away 1970s-era dropped ceilings and walls, it revealed the building’s original architectural details—brick walls and the former bank vault, now creatively converted into Monique’s walk-in refrigerator. Former bank signs were gleaned from an auction, and custom-built navy cabinetry anchors the French-inspired décor.

Around the Block

When the new shop’s doors opened for a soft opening in mid-October, the line of customers stretched outside and wrapped around the corner.

“So much for the soft opening,” Monique says with a laugh. “It was amazing—we felt so loved by this community.”

It was something Monique never envisioned when she baked her first cakes as a college student trying to earn money for her textbooks.

But her baking side hustle grew through the years: as she worked at Antrim 1844 in Taneytown, Maryland—where she met her husband Mike Warner; as she became a mother to two daughters; as she decided her home-based bakery needed a space of its own.

When she first opened Gateau Monique in 2014, “kind of on a whim,” she says, “I thought it was just going to be a spot where I could bake cakes, and people could come in and order cakes—I never intended on opening a retail shop.”

On opening day, everything in her one tiny case sold.

“I baked all night and restocked,” she remembers. The same thing happened on day two. 

“I didn’t have any supplies—flour or anything—left. I had to close the third day, just to restock,” says Monique. “And within the first week, I realized the people in this community really want a bakery—a spot to walk in and buy something, a brownie, a scone. I was like, wow, this is going in a very different direction than I thought it would.”

In the Details

Today, just like those exquisite red velvet cupcakes, the secret to Monique’s growth and success lies in the details.

“We have watched endless YouTube videos on milk frothing, so that we can make a really good cup of coffee, latte or cappuchino,” Monique says. Husband Mike is the shop’s barista, and Harry calls him “meticulous.”

Local artist Paulette Brabender added French-inspired murals to the bakery walls. (See our social media accounts for a video of Paulette explaining the mural’s details!) But the most important details are the flavors. In any given week, the bakery creates about 1,500 baked goods—some of which are available in two Gettysburg locations: Ragged Edge Coffee House and Bantam Coffee Roasters. 

Monique has fine-tuned the details of those recipes over the years, including her popular scones. She describes the recipe as a basic scone dough that she changes up by adding seasonal ingredients such as fresh blueberries.

For her, there’s joy in using locally available products so that her bakery cases are ever-changing, evolving and creating new memories, while reminding us of long-treasured memories too.

“In the summer, we make ice cream sandwiches, and I love that,” says Monique. “We make the ice cream from scratch with Apple Valley [Creamery]  milk and cream. Serving ice cream to people makes me feel like a kid again, living out the dream.” 

Gateau Monique

10 S. Queen St., Littlestown

Mon., 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Tue., Thur. and Fri., 7 a.m.-3 p.m.

Sat., 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

Closed on Wed. and Sun.


About Author

Karen Hendricks

Karen Hendricks is a a lifelong journalist of 30+ years and plays an important role with the editorial team at CG. In addition to overseeing the social channels at the magazine, Karen is also an accomplished freelance writer. Her skills with pen and paper are only the tip of the iceberg, as she is also an avid runner, recently completing 50 races to benefit 50 causes for her 50th birthday. Learn more about this beautiful endeavor as well as her other passions by visiting

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