In spite of its vaguely theme-park feel, Paris Baguette is a decent addition to the block. Peter Schubert, Partner and Managing Director of Retail at TerraCRG, recently told Brownstoner that the northern Court Street area has become “one of the go-to corridors for national retailers entering the Brooklyn market.”
Schubert mentioned that commercial rents along the street average between $100 to $150 per square foot, with some getting close to $200 per square foot. That’s not an insignificant sum. But it may be a good investment for Paris Baguette, as it strives for international expansion.
Part Korean bakery, part French boulangerie, Paris Baguette offers food and a place to sit with a cup of coffee and a WiFi connection. It’s clean. It’s safe. The staff wear Breton shirts and berets. Pink Martini plays from hidden speakers.
In South Korea, the bakery chain has been so successful (imagine more than 3,000 stores in a place the size of Kentucky) that the country feared for the survival of its independent bakeries and passed a law last year limiting Paris Baguette’s domestic growth. Now, the company is channelling its considerable resources to expanding overseas.
Over the past decade, this particular slice of Court Street has become increasingly residential. More than 6,500 apartments were built in Downtown Brooklyn in the last 10 years, and at least 9,000 more are slated for completion by 2018.
Now, with the ongoing development of the south end of Brooklyn Bridge Park, visitors are passing through the neighborhood on their way to paths and piers. More residents and tourists means more people looking for somewhere to grab a bite.
On Court Street, Paris Baguette is located just above the New York Transit Museum (the main entrance is down the block), and directly opposite La Bagel Delight, a Brooklyn staple founded in Park Slope in 1986 — two years before the first Paris Baguette opened in Seoul.
A recent weekday morning found Paris Baguette populated by a young family and a couple of besuited businessmen sipping coffee to the strains of a jazzy samba. Across Court, La Bagel Delight was buzzing with people wrangling their dogs and grabbing a quick breakfast before work.
“I think it’s great for the neighborhood,” said Ron Lopez, a co-owner of La Bagel Delight, as he looked out his window at the storefront opposite. “At first, a friend of mine said ‘They got everything you have. Only better.’ She was joking, you know. But really there hasn’t been a difference for my business. We’re like two different worlds.”
But besides the baked goods, there’s at least one thing the Korean cafe and the Brooklyn bagel place have in common: faux French branding.
“The ‘La’ in our name?” said Lopez. “Yeah, that was added by the founder’s wife. She thought it sounded classy. Sounded French.”
But word has it that another French bakery is on its way to Court Street. This time actually from France. According to Peter Schubert, Maison Kayser — the high-end artisanal boulangerie — just signed the lease on a space a block north of Paris Baguette and La Bagel Delight.