A South Korean bakery chain, known for French-inspired sweets and pastries, is taking America by storm.Thanks to its ambitious expansion plans, you may soon see its signature items like donuts and elaborately decorated cakes in your neighborhood.
While still a newbie in the United States, Paris Baguette, which started in Seoul, South Korea, in 1942, is a huge international brand, with more than 3,800 worldwide locations. And with its sights set on a major American expansion, the chain continues to inch closer to its ambitious goal of reaching 1,000 in this territory by 2030.
According to Nation's Restaurant News, the chain has recently signed franchising agreements that will bring 66 new locations to 20 states in the coming years. Currently, there are 100 Paris Baguette cafés scattered across 13 states, with the highest concentration found in New York, New Jersey, and California.
Mark Mele, the chain's chief development officer, says Paris Baguette is decidedly a bakery first, unlike bigger competitors such as Panera, who have abandoned the bakery aspect in order to become more of an eatery (although Panera's latest restaurant design revamp does bring the "freshly baked" aspect back into focus.) At the heart of each Paris Baguette café is its self-serve pastry section, while its dining rooms occupy significantly less space than Panera's.
During the pandemic, the chain kept most of its locations open, notes vice president of operations Nick Scaccio, which has helped it retain presence and "lent itself to the brand continuing to be available." Now, the company is planning several upgrades, some of which will be an overhaul of its coffee offering and a new store design that will provide customers with more visibility into its kitchen operations.