I was surprised to see a Paris Baguette at the corner of 52nd Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan — i.e., not in, or anywhere near, Koreatown. An employee inside the store said it had opened on Nov. 1. There wasn’t a single 팥빵 in sight, a clear sign that they’re trying to reach beyond their core customer base.
Attempting to break out of K-Town is pretty — how to put this generously? — brave. New York already has a fair number of French-style bakeries, not to mention a very popular satellite location of a famed Parisian bakery chain.
Yes, Paris Baguette is a Korean bakery chain. But while its name and Eiffel Tower logo may have originally sought to communicate a general sense of cosmopolitan flair to customers back in South Korea, outside of a Korean context they practically beg for the chain to be viewed — however unintentionally — as a French boulangerie.
Ever buy a baguette at Paris Baguette? Me neither. Perhaps the owners are betting that new customers who leave the 52nd Street location puzzled and annoyed will be outnumbered by those who are just happy to have a new bakery/sandwich shop on the block.