Bakery proposed for Howard Street


Daily file photo by Sean Su

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) attends a City Council meeting. Wilson expressed support for the new potential tenant at 633 Howard St.

Ryan Wangman, Assistant City Editor

Howard Street may get a little sweeter in the near future, as a French-style bakery is looking to move into a vacant storefront.

The Economic Development Committee discussed a proposal at a meeting Wednesday to lease a city-owned space to Evanston business owner Pascal Berthoumieux, who intends to expand his brand of French-style restaurants.

Berthoumieux owns three Evanston eateries: Patisserie Coralie, Bistro Bordeaux and Creperie St. Germain. He hopes to open a Patisserie Coralie location at 633 Howard Street, provided the city approves his lease proposal. According to Berthoumieux’s proposal, the new restaurant will feature a wide selection of French pastries in a coffee shop atmosphere and will look to replicate “an authentic French experience.”

“All our recipes are French; our pastry chef is from France,” Berthoumieux said. “We live and breath our culinary heritage, and I think that makes a difference.”

The city has been looking for tenants for the property since March 2016, seeking businesses that would help revitalize the Howard Street area. According to board documents, several past prospective tenants were not prepared to lease the location because it contained more space than they were ready to use.

According to council documents, Berthoumieux may have to sell one of his restaurants to finance the acquisition of the space on Howard Street. The new restaurant would create 10 full-time and 10 part-time jobs, according to the document.

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) said he was thrilled about Patisserie Coralie’s potential expansion in the city.

”The original Patisserie Coralie is in the 4th Ward, and you can’t do any better than this place as far as quality of a product (and) quality of environment,” Wilson said, “I’m not going to jump up and down, but just short of that.”

Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) said that the building has never generated tax revenue before and previously housed a police outpost and a synagogue. She emphasized the impact the potential business could have at increasing daytime traffic on Howard Street, something that she said all the businesses on the street have wanted for a while.

Rainey has been working to fill the space with a restaurant for years, in addition to pushing for the approval of the Howard Street Theater. The proposed site for the theater — which has not yet been approved by council — is close to the outpost Berthoumieux is looking to occupy.

“We’ve always wanted to be just like the 4th Ward, and now we might have a place just like the 4th Ward,” Rainey said. “I think it couldn’t be a better fit, and the size is perfect.”

Berthoumieux said he viewed current businesses succeeding on Howard Street as a draw to the area. He said he thought Patisserie Coralie would fill the need for daytime traffic.

The strength of the café would be its ability to differentiate itself from a traditional “chain coffee shop” experience, Pascal said.

”We can celebrate Evanston by being unique, and having those independent businesses is what makes Evanston what it is today,” Berthoumieux said.

The city will now begin to conduct further review on Berthoumieux and his prospective business before moving forward to lease the space. The committee will next discuss the matter at their meeting on Feb. 13.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @ryanwangman