Paris Baguette, the 4,000-plus-unit global bakery cafe franchise with 90 locations across the U.S., is looking to revitalize the nation’s bakery cafe space by adding 1,000 new U.S. stores before 2030. Paris Baguette has looked to Ohio as one of its top states for growth, and has officially signed Ai Lin, a Chinese-American restaurateur and multi-brand franchisee who has a passion for introducing new concepts to her local community, as the brand’s first franchisee in the Cincinnati market. Lin, who’s loved the brand since she first immigrated to the United States 20 years ago, plans to open her first bakery at the end of this year and already has plans to expand in the near future.
Paris Baguette already has a significant presence along the coasts, but this is the brand’s first time breaking into Ohio. Brand officials see a perfect opportunity to introduce its top-quality breads, pastries and cakes worth sharing, gifting and making time for.
“Our bakery will fit well in the Cincinnati market because there’s very few options that deliver the same quality of handmade, baked fresh daily croissants, baguettes and pastries,” Mark Mele, the brand’s chief development officer saus. “In our goal to become America’s go-to bakery cafe, the Cincinnati market represents one of the Midwest’s biggest regions with enormous potential for growth.”
With over two million people in the rapidly-growing Cincinnati area, Mele says the sky’s the limit for how many stores Paris Baguette can open. Plus, as rival bakeries vacate the bakery cafe space and pivot towards becoming eateries, right now represents the opportune time for Paris Baguette to reclaim the mantle of becoming the country’s premier spot for fresh baked goods.
“Our competitors are moving into new territories, turning their bakeries into eateries and leaving the space wide open,” says Mele. “Paris Baguette is staying true to who we are. We’re bringing back bakeries that bake in the store daily. Every day we’re making bread, croissants, pastries and cakes. We also prepare sandwiches and salads in the store, but we’re committed to staking our claim as the top neighborhood bakery, and nobody is coming close to our quality.”
The Cincinnati region, like many U.S. metroplexes, has seen the slow, painful demise of the bakery cafes that used to unite and serve its neighborhoods. So, where are people buying their croissants and cakes? At the grocery store — hardly a place where people congregate and socialize. By offering higher end cakes and baked goods, Paris Baguette can blow past the supermarkets it competes with while also providing a fun, relaxing space for the neighborhood to sit down with friends. When Lin saw an opportunity to expand her portfolio and introduce Paris Baguette to Cincinnati, she knew it was too good to pass up.
“I love Paris Baguette not only because of the high-quality products and service the brand is focused on providing,” Lin adds. “I also love the brand because it’s constantly striving to grow and develop. That’s something I want to be part of and I cannot wait to open the first Paris Baguette in Cincinnati.”
While other bakery concepts pivot from bakery cafes, Paris Baguette has identified a hole in food service industry offerings. Paris Baguette believes deeply in the importance of a neighborhood bakery cafe where people can enjoy the best of baked goods with a hot tea or coffee. As the pandemic’s grip on American society wanes, people are yearning for the opportunity to spend time in a neighborhood bakery cafe that evokes the delicious old-world traditions like Paris Baguette.
“We all grew up with that special neighborhood bakery, and that’s sort of dissolved. Paris Baguette’s next major milestone will be becoming America’s neighborhood bakery-cafe,” Darren Tipton, the brand’s CEO says.
Paris Baguette has no other locations in Ohio, Michigan, or Kentucky but the brand seeks potentially dozens of franchise partners, in addition to Lin, to grow across the city and its surrounding areas. As for Cincinnati, it’s open for business and a great place to grow a brand.
“Cincinnati represents an ideal location for Paris Baguette because of its low barriers to entry from a construction standpoint,” Mele says. “Multi-unit developers and multi-unit franchisees from other brands love the fact that you can expand there pretty quickly.”
In Cincinnati, the fast-growing population and demographic trends make it ripe for a Paris Baguette in every neighborhood.
“In Ohio alone, we can open 50 to 100-plus stores,” he said. “If we look at the Cincinnati market alone, there’s no reason we couldn’t have 5+ stores in the area, the demographics are there to support that number. If I included Dayton, Columbus, Hamilton, and Middletown, that’s about 25 locations right there. The State of Ohio is a large from a population and geographic standpoint, and remains a target for Paris Baguette expansion.”
With plans for potentially dozens of locations across Ohio, Paris Baguette has shown how committed it is to developing its place in local communities. Each Paris Baguette location creates 15 to 20 skilled jobs, where locals can learn and perfect the trades of being a barista, baking, making cakes or fine sandwiches and salads and customer service. Often, Paris Baguette’s workers become a local attraction to the stores. Store owners frequently find guests mesmerized by the colorful, innovative, baked goods made by bakers and cakers.
Paris Baguette is looking for skilled entrepreneurs with a passion for providing top quality goods and a friendly neighborhood bakery cafe space for the locals.
“We’re looking for franchisees that, number one, have a business background,” says Mele. “Perhaps they ran a successful business in the past, and all the better if it was a restaurant brand.”
But while the Paris Baguette concept is a proven money maker in an in-demand segment, Mele said it’s a business opportunity only for hands-on owners.
“From an operations standpoint, we want engaged owners keeping a pulse on the business with multiple units,” adds Mele. “They’re not going to be working in the facility as the general manager, but if they want multiple units they’re going to have to oversee those units actively. It’s still possible for someone to open a single unit if we find the right person, but our preference is multi-unit deals.”
As for net worth requirements, Paris Baguette requires franchisees to have $500,000 in Liquid Assets and $1,500,000 in Net Worth. Paris Baguette prefers multi-unit franchisees that can quickly build out a market, raise brand awareness and grow with the brand as people learn about the joys of a neighborhood bakery cafe.
With flagship, standalone locations and nontraditional locations like malls, university campuses and transportation hubs an option, Mele said Paris Baguette can find a location for any aspiring franchisee, as long as they have the drive.
“You have to have a passion for people and a passion for the business we’re doing on a daily basis. It’s about delivering happiness with our baked goods. It’s a high-end product and people realize that when they come in,” says Mele.