Ooh La La: The French Bakery Franchise Then and Now

The French bakery is held as the epitome of baking around the world, mainly for its delectable flavors, incredible textures, and delicate presentation. Traditional pastry shops are the best places to find French baked goods, and for good reason.

French food franchises are often the benchmark other brands aspire to for their own baked pastries and desserts.

Unveiling the History of the French Bakery 

It’s difficult to deny that many of the most popular desserts are French—crème brulée, chocolate mousse, the èclair. The word “dessert” comes from the French word “desservir,” meaning “to clear the table.”

French desserts are typically made with custard, cream, fruits, and pastry, and they’re sold in shops in Paris called patisseries. Tourism created a boom in hotel building during the 19th century in Paris, giving rise to café culture. This patisserie sector grew into the 20th century, and today’s well-established businesses and franchises have locations around the world.

The Iconic Croissant and Macaron: French Pastry Legends

Perhaps the darling of French pastries is the croissant.

The croissant’s origins are, surprisingly, not French, but from Vienna, Austria from a type of bread called the kipferl. How it came to France, however, is somewhat less clear.

Food historians speculate whether the croissant was baked in celebration of the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Vienna.

Another legend is that Catherine de Medici is said to have brought kipferl to France to assuage her homesickness for foods from her Austrian home.

The earliest written record of the kipferl in France is in 1839, with a Viennese bakery in Paris owned by Austrian artillery officer August Zang. Other traditional pastry shop owners began to imitate what they termed the “croissant” in their shops in reference to its half-moon shape.

The macaron is another pastry attributed to being brought to France by Catherine de Medici. Egg whites and sugar whipped to perfection create a chewy cookie with a crispy shell; these small cookies gained popularity when two Carmelite nuns used the proceeds from selling macarons to pay for housing during the French Revolution.

As French desserts have evolved, so too have the shops that bake and sell them. While many of these recipes are steeped in tradition, cultures from around the world have embraced these foods, added their own flairs, and made them available everywhere.

Today, customers can find French bakery goods nearly anywhere in the world. So far, we’ve expanded to more than 300 locations across the United States and Canada.

Types of French Baked Goods


Patisserie is known worldwide as little French pastries, but what does that actually encompass?

The customer experience in a patisserie (yes, the shop itself is also called a patisserie) can be overwhelming at times, with all the confectionery available. The following items are included in the patisserie:

  • macarons
  • choux buns
  • millefeuille
  • madeleines
  • petits fours
  • bavaroise
  • tarts
  • and more

Patisserie typically describe light, delicate, and small dessert pastries that are usually sweet and often decadent. This style of dessert is also the type people choose for special occasions.

Bread and Boulangerie

A boulangerie sells breads and croissants for everyday meals. While the French take their bread very seriously, these are a staple grocery item in a way that patisserie is not.

To be called a boulangerie, the bread must be baked on-premises. Bread is an essential element in French culture and cuisine. All types of bread can be found, such as the Paris baguette, a pain de Campagne, or pain complet.

Boulangeries will also have brioche, croissants, and sometimes pastries on their menu.

Cakes and Gateaux

Cakes and gateaux are another category with as many opinions as there are high-quality ingredients. They can be exquisite while being the simplest presentation—like the Madeleine—or something complex, like the Bûche de Noël, or Christmas Log.

Many French cakes contain fruit, custard, or cream. They’re often light sponge cakes layered with jams, mousse, ganache, or fruit, and served in a range of styles, from petit-fours to tarts to tiers.

A large part of why French cake baking seems intimidating is both in the attention to detail and the layering. They’re visually stunning cakes that are also sometimes time-consuming to make and require a neat, steady hand.

However, once bakers can get the concept down, they’re typically a menu item that can be made at scale for many customers and tweaked for numerous options.

The French Bakery Experience in America and Franchise Success

In America, there are French bakery franchises, where franchise owners can take the intimidation factor out of the baking process and create an approachable business model for customers.

It all comes down to making the recipes accessible to the public and removing the air of mystery. French baking is all about technique and ingredients. Here are some keys to French baked goods:

  • Lots of butter layered in the pastry dough results in extra flakiness
  • French pastries need time, patience, and attention to detail to make them beautiful. It takes practice to achieve their elegance
  • Many French desserts are layered, like millefeuilles and dacquiose. Layers are prepped separately
  • Textures are intentionally light and fluffy, like meringues and mousses
  • Custard, like in crème brulée, is a common ingredient because it’s creamy and rich

French franchise owners are also putting their unique spin on traditional pastry shop recipes to make themselves stand out. A perfect example is the Cronut, a combination of the flaky croissant pastry fried like a donut that took America by storm ten years ago.

Perkins Restaurant & Bakery®: A Quality Bakery Franchise with American Flair

Perkins Restaurant & Bakery® is one such franchise that makes customers feel right at home while still producing bakery-fresh foods that mean business. It takes more than a specific food concept, like French baking, to catch on in America. It takes a multitude of factors to keep customers returning, such as:

  • Quality ingredients sourced as locally as possible
  • Exceptional customer service giving guests that homestyle feel of comfort and welcome
  • Food prepared with care and attention to flavor, whether it’s a classic or contemporary dish
  • Good value at a fair price and served by people who have a deep connection to the community.

Perkins® has also perfected our bakery arm, and our pies have become legendary in our 65+ years of operation. While we aren’t exactly a French franchise opportunity, we are just as competitive as those traditional pastry shops that offer French pastries throughout the country.

 A Bright Future with Perkins Restaurant & Bakery® Franchise

Bakery Cafés reached a market size of $17 billion in 2022, making a franchise investment in the Perkins Restaurant & Bakery® brand something to consider for a future in the pastries industry in the US.

What’s more, Perkins® knows how to support our franchise owners. After all, we’ve expanded to more than 300 locations across the United States and Canada.

When a franchise has that many locations, it says something about how well they treat their franchise owners, many of whom have been with Perkins® for decades.

The brand that makes customers feel like family will make their franchise owners feel like an integral part of the brand, as well. They do that with a comprehensive franchise program that includes:

  • Site selection guidance
  • Comprehensive restaurant training
  • Vendor and supply chain support
  • Communication and technology
  • Local and System-wide marketing strategies

If joining a modern brand with an extremely experienced franchise leadership team, a complete franchise development model, and the potential for multiple revenue streams sounds like a great doorway to a bright future, contact us today to learn more about investing with Perkins Restaurant & Bakery® as a franchisee.