LINCOLN SQUARE — Well, that didn't take long.
The Lycee Francais school celebrated the grand opening of its new home in Lincoln Square just two weeks ago and its presence has already attracted other businesses to the neighborhood.
French bakery and cafe La Boulangerie has announced plans to move in next door to Lycee, at 1945 W. Wilson Ave. If all goes smoothly, owner Vincent Colombet said he'll be serving up baguettes and macarons by December.
For Colombet the lure of Lycee was doubly appealing.
"My son is going to the school," he said. "I'm part of the community, most of my friends have kids there. It's like a public favor."
Patty Wetli says the bakery's location is no coincidence:
Colombet grew up in the French countryside, trained as a pastry chef in Paris and moved to Chicago in 2004. In 2005, he opened Cook Au Vin, a catering company that also offers cooking classes, and his first La Boulangerie, in Logan Square, followed in 2010.
That site closed in December 2013, in large part due to an onerous non-compete arrangement with an adjacent coffee shop. A La Boulangerie in Lakeview has carried the brand's torch since 2012.
With 3,000 square feet to play with on Damen, Colombet will not only have room to bake on site but will be able to provide far more seating than at previous locations. Depending on the response of neighbors, weekend brunch could be added.
Colombet, who lives in Roscoe Village, said he expects the Lincoln Square bakery to have an even heavier French accent than his previous shops, given the built-in customers that come from Lycee, a French international school that educates kids from kindergarten through 12th grade.
"It will be a more traditional French bakery," he said. "We know that a lot of French people will come and support us, so we can be very adventurous, very French, not so Americanized."
At the same time, he said Chicago's ascendance as a foodie town has expanded people's palates to the point where he thinks non-French neighbors will appreciate his offerings.
"I think Chicago is ready to get more sophisticated," Colombet said.
Alongside croissants, crepes, breads and sandwiches, look for pastries such as chouquettes, which are a mini-cream puff the French pop like candy.
"It's the indulgence you can offer every day for 50 cents," said Colombet. "It's that little something sweet. In France, it's in the basket next to the cash register."
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