The first Metro Vancouver locations of the global sensation from South Korea will open later this year.

Fewer food business stories echo the oft-heard saying in the real estate game that it’s all about “location, location, location,” than South Korean import bakery-café chain Paris Baguette and its entrance into the Vancouver market.

The global giant, which began in 1988 in South Korea, is prepping its first Vancouver franchise at 1150 Alberni St. Estimates currently put opening day sometime in December.

According to Mat Miskiman, Paris Baguette’s senior manager of real estate and franchise development in Canada, the downtown Vancouver location was carefully chosen. 

Miskiman’s role is to work with commercial real estate brokers to find potential locations in which to house Paris Baguette franchises. 

“We identify the best buildings in Vancouver and then we find a franchisee to fit the space,” Miskiman told V.I.A. in a phone interview.

“Real estate rules this business,” said Miskiman. 

Vancouver’s first Paris Baguette joins high-profile global restaurant brand in same building

For the downtown Vancouver location, finding a franchisee wasn’t too hard. That said, Miskiman noted that the business is wildly popular, but of every 100 applicants, he estimated only about five or six emerge as potential candidates.

The most likely franchisee candidates are those who have a track record of building a brand and successfully scaling up. 

In Vancouver, the first franchisee happened to land a space for Paris Baguette that will have a high-profile globally-renowned neighbour in the same building: Din Tai Fung.

That was no accident, attested Miskiman. 

The Taiwanese dumpling chain will make its Canadian debut in the same building, moving into a second-floor space currently undergoing renovations.

Though it does seem like Paris Baguette’s target opening is eons away, Miskiman said the Alberni location offers the brand a “fast runway,” which is one of the hallmarks the company looks for in selecting sites.

Achieving the Paris Baguette look requires a commercial space with abundant natural light, room for the cafeteria-style display case and ordering line, and the seating that is always present in its cafes. 

Even with modest renovations, however, Miskiman said it can often be a full year from signing a franchise agreement to opening day.

Ultimately, when the build-out is done, any Paris Baguette will accord its guests a familiar and welcoming feel; the franchises, by design, all have a similar layout and a standardized menu. 

What guests can expect at Paris Baguette in Vancouver

Miskiman calls visiting Paris Baguette “an experience” wherein the customer is “wowed” by the 150-plus selections of bread and pastries along with grab-and-go casual café items like salads and sandwiches. 

“Most folks have never seen all in one place,” remarked Miskiman of Paris Baguette’s extensive bakery-café menu. 

It’s an “elevated bakery concept and neighbourhood café” designed to “bring the community together,” he elaborated. 

While some global brands make menu adjustments from city to city, Miskiman said Paris Baguette may occasionally make regional tweaks, but overall focuses on a uniform experience. 

“People are fiercely loyal to the brand,” he described. “They wait for seasonal releases.”

Those special limited-edition items include Paris Baguette’s signature cake line, which often features seasonal flavours and creations timed for various holidays throughout the year. 

“We have a cake following,” added Miskiman.

“This is a brand that is built on its exclusive bakers,” he said. “We have a commitment to making exquisite pastries and really focus on innovation.”

And though for many who live, work, or play in downtown Vancouver, the notion of a grab-and-go coffee spot with baked goods and light eats might be appealing, Miskiman says the café seating is a crucial component of the Paris Baguette experience. 

Vancouver, Coquitlam lead Metro region with first Paris Baguette franchises

To that end, the locations are large; Vancouver’s Alberni Street Paris Baguette will clock in at 3,000 square feet, while the second in the region, coming to North Road in Coquitlam at around the same time, is 2,900 square feet. 

Though there are just two stores in the build-out process at the moment, don’t think Paris Baguette has taken its eyes off the Metro Vancouver market.

In October 2021, the global franchise operation made waves by announcing its intention to open 100 locations nationwide, including several in Vancouver.

It took two years for the first Paris Baguette bakery-cafés to open in Canada. The first to debut was in the Toronto area, followed by locations in Edmonton and Calgary.

Where Metro Vancouver’s 10+ Paris Baguette stores could be

Miskiman, who grew up in Ottawa but is based in the U.S., is excited about the brand’s focused foray north of the U.S. border. He explained how the Metro Vancouver market has been split into six segments, covering West Vancouver through Richmond and down to South Surrey and as far east as Port Moody and Langley. 

Though in Vancouver proper, Miskiman is keen to find locations and franchisees for hot zones like Kerrisdale, Oakridge, and Kitsilano, it’s likely a Richmond location will be next in the pipeline after the initial two. Surrey, North Vancouver and West Vancouver are priority markets in the larger Metro Vancouver region.

Nationally, Paris Baguette wants to open 10 to 15 stores a year, and Miskiman said Metro Vancouver’s initial franchise tally for its “first wave” will come in around 10 or 12. Metro Vancouver offers a “huge population…but we have to be smart,” noted Miskiman of how Paris Baguette is approaching its trajectory in the region. “We don’t want cannibalization.”

Spreading out the right number of locations throughout the Metro Vancouver area will position Paris Baguette to build a new loyal following in each of its communities. The hope is those fans will fulfil what every business wants: customers who come back again and again.

Find more delicious Vancouver food and drink video stories by following V.I.A’s Forking Awesome TikTok account, @forkingawesomevancouver on Instagram, and signing up for our Forking Awesome newsletter delivered fresh to your inbox every Thursday.

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