Bethany Clough

That mystery restaurant coming to downtown? Here’s who it is and where it’s going

La Boulangerie to open cafe at historic Pacific Southwest Building

In another step in downtown revitalization, city officials announced Tuesday that La Boulangerie French Bakery & Cafe will open an outdoor cafe at the historic Pacific Southwest Building. Its original location will remain at Fig Garden Village.
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In another step in downtown revitalization, city officials announced Tuesday that La Boulangerie French Bakery & Cafe will open an outdoor cafe at the historic Pacific Southwest Building. Its original location will remain at Fig Garden Village.

That mystery restaurant coming to downtown Fresno? It’s La Boulangerie.

La Boulangerie de France, the longtime bakery and restaurant in Fig Garden Village, plans to open a sidewalk cafe-style bakery window with outdoor seating at the Pacific Southwest Building at Fulton and Mariposa streets.

Speculation about which restaurant was slated to open there started swirling Friday when the Downtown Fresno Partnership sent out a news release teasing an event at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, where the mayor and others would unveil “plans for a well-known Fresno eatery to open a downtown Fresno location.”

The owner of La Bou – as it’s often affectionately called – confirmed the plans with The Bee on Friday.

On Tuesday, La Bou’s owners and Pacific Southwest Building owner Sevak Khatchadourian shared details.

The bakery is a second location. The original La Bou in Fig Garden isn’t going anywhere.

The downtown cafe will have 75 tables on the wide sidewalks and a walk-up window for ordering facing Mariposa Street. There won’t be any indoor seating, leaving the ballroom nearly untouched and available for special events.

JRW DOWNTOWN RESTAURANT BRA
Fresno Mayor Lee Brand makes the announcement Tuesday morning of the opening of the popular La Boulangerie, French bakery and cafe, to the historic Pacific Southwest Building, Sept. 25, 2018, with the building’s ownerSevak Khatchadourian, at right. JOHN WALKER jwalker@fresnobee.com

The pastries and other goodies will be made at the Fig Garden location and brought downtown. The business will be open in the early morning for people who want coffee and a treat, and will stay open through lunch.

The bakery will offer “everything we sell at the other place, (we’re trying) to copy the original La Bou,” said Taj Rakkar, who bought the bakery with his sister and their spouses last year.

If all goes as planned, it will open in November.

Mayor Lee Brand noted that an established, popular business would likely serve not just people who already eat downtown, but bring in customers from outside downtown.

“This is a destination business,” he said. “This is one more step in bringing people to downtown.”

Khatchadourian, the building owner, approached the owners of La Bou with the idea. He said he wanted the vibe of the existing La Bou – where customers leisurely lunch under umbrellas or share a coffee and a pastry – at his building.

“We have huge sidewalks. We need to fill them up,” he said, pointing to the extra-wide sidewalks on Mariposa.

That corner has become a hub of activity since Fulton Mall was turned back into a street open to cars. Across Mariposa Street, new restaurant Chicken Shack opened recently (with Toshiko Japanese Cuisine next door coming soon), and existing restaurants Just the Tip, Downtown Donut, La Cocina de Mamá and Kids Cafe 2019 are a few doors down.

Back in Fig Garden Village, the original La Bou also is expanding. It’s knocking down a wall and taking over the small shop next door. The bakery needs the space for icing cakes, laundry and storage as its wedding cake business expands. Owners also plan to knock down walls and open up the front of the business more.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough

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