A South Korean bakery chain, known for its French-inspired confections and pastries, is taking America by storm. Thanks to its ambitious expansion plans, you may soon see its flagship items like donuts and ornately decorated cakes in your neighborhood.
Although still a rookie in the United States, Paris Baguette, which started in Seoul, South Korea, in 1942, is a huge international brand, with more than 3,800 locations worldwide. And in preparation for major U.S. expansion, the channel continues to move closer to its ambitious goal of reaching 1,000 in that territory by 2030.
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According to Nation Restaurant News, the chain recently signed franchise deals that will bring 66 new locations to 20 states in the coming years. Currently, there are 100 Paris Baguette cafes spread across 13 states, with the highest concentration found in New York, New Jersey and California.
Mark Mele, the chain’s development director, says Paris Baguette is definitely a bakery first, unlike larger competitors such as Panera, which have ditched the bakery aspect and become more of a restaurant (although the latest revamp of Panera’s restaurant design brings ‘freshly baked’ back to the fore.) At the heart of each Paris Baguette café is its self-service pastry section, while its dining areas take up far less space than those by Panera.
During the pandemic, the chain has kept most of its locations open, notes vice president of operations Nick Scaccio, which has helped it maintain its presence and “lent itself to the brand continuing to be available”. Today, the company is planning several upgrades, some of which will be a revamp of its cafe offering and a new store design that will give customers greater visibility into its kitchen operations.