In this exclusive Q&A, we get to learn about Paris Baguette from its Chief Development Officer Larry Sidoti.
Franchise Chatter (FC): What is Paris Baguette?
Larry Sidoti (LS): Paris Baguette is a premier, French-inspired bakery-café concept. The brand was born out of a concept which first began in Korea in 1945 and evolved into the Paris Baguette brand in 1988.
We specialize in French-inspired recipes using proprietary dough that is lighter, more airy and less sweet than traditional dough to create a variety of decadent desserts, in addition to coffee and chef-inspired sandwiches.
Currently, Paris Baguette has more than 3,700 locations in South Korea, China, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States. After reaching 43 locations spanning the West Coast to the East Coast, Paris Baguette began franchising in 2015 and now has 46 locations with a projected 350 additional stores over the next five years.
FC: What is unique about the Paris Baguette brand?
LS: Besides the nostalgic, romantic connection associated with the city of Paris, our dough and emphasis on beautiful product presentation is difficult to imitate. Our consistency and unique product line not only gives us an edge over other American bakery concepts, but makes our concept difficult to replicate.
Seeing as Paris Baguette already has an established reputation and fan base overseas, our franchise opportunity allows prospects to get in at the ground floor in the United States with vastly open territories across the nation, with a brand that continues to experience incredible international success.
FC: Tell us a little more about yourself and your current position at Paris Baguette.
LS: Before Paris Baguette, I served as vice president of development at Yogurtland, TCBY and Mrs. Fields, and Juice It Up, a company which I co-founded. As the current chief development officer for Paris
Baguette, I’m able to utilize decades of experience in the fast-casual food space to help take this bakery
concept with 70-year old roots in Korea to the mainstream American market through strategic franchise
FC: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the franchising sphere?
LS: Paris Baguette domestically is very new to the franchise model, so we’re currently tasked with perfecting our training, marketing, support and development systems. As we introduce the brand to new markets, we’re learning how to navigate through cultural differences and expand the brand beyond our core markets and into mainstream development areas.
This is a brand that’s very well-known overseas, and we want to drive that same success and brand loyalty here in the United States by finding the right franchise partners that fully understand the history, international popularity and growth potential of the Paris Baguette brand.
FC: When creating the Paris Baguette U.S. franchise model, what steps did you take to help prepare new franchisees?
LS: One of the most critical aspects of our franchise model is our comprehensive training and support centers. When dealing with a brand that has such a huge international presence, we needed to ensure that we were capable of supporting new franchisees.
We have multiple regional training centers in expansion markets across the country where we conduct robust 14-week training sessions with new franchisees in order to familiarize them with every facet of the brand and franchise model. Not only do these centers provide us with a large on-site training facility, but they serve as regional distribution centers for our franchise locations and allow us to provide strong logistical and operational support for new franchisees in the system.
FC: What lessons from your past experience in the food industry have you transferred to your current role as Chief Development Officer?
LS: What’s unique about the Paris Baguette brand is that it already has a proven, successful business model overseas; this model currently needs to be scaled for the U.S. market. In my experience with a variety of quick service food brands, I’ve learned that a validated, scalable business model is achieved through a formula of the right people, strong unit economics, real estate and unique product offering.
Once you have a solid team in place to drive growth, it’s important to be realistic, cautious and deliberate in your real estate and product choices. Every decision should be made with the customer in mind, including the constant shift in tastes and menu innovation.
FC: What are your goals for the brand’s U.S. development?
LS: We plan to ramp up our expansion efforts through franchising across the United States. We will focus on 18 key target markets while also concentrating on continued development throughout California and the Northeast.
We have 15 locations that are projected to open in 2016, and are continuing to seek out committed, passionate franchise partners to help the brand flourish in the American bakery-café space. In addition, we are seeking opportunistic area developers interested in an early entre opportunity to lock up highly desirable territories in key growth markets.