The team behind Paris 66 bistro and Gaby et Jules Patisseries et Macaron bakeries is opening a café in East Liberty this summer, and yes, there will be macarons.
Located at 6006 Penn Ave., Gaby et Jules: Café will serve coffee, hot chocolate, French sodas and other drinks along with quiche, sandwiches and the company’s signature pastries and macarons. The 1,000-square-foot shop will have seating so customers can indulge their sweet tooth on-site.
The café’s grand opening will coincide with the 10th anniversary of Paris 66, a popular restaurant on nearby Centre Avenue.
“I’m happy because it’s going to be a different concept,” says Parisian Frederic Rongier, who co-owns the eateries with his wife Lori and Executive Pastry Chef Dave Piquard. “It’s a café where you can sit and have lunch, get a coffee and buy your macarons.”
From their flagship store in Squirrel Hill, the company ships their treats – colorful meringue shells filled with ganache – nationwide.
Local fans can get their fill at Gaby et Jules locations in Market Street Grocery Downtown and at Pittsburgh International Airport (talk about bon voyage!). Lautrec, a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond Restaurant at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, also features the macarons on its dessert menu, while Whole Foods Market in Wexford and East Liberty carries their frozen sandwich cookies, which can be thawed and devoured in about 30 minutes.
Making macarons takes years of experience. Piquard, a native of Metz in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, has been doing it for two decades. It’s a labor-intensive mixture-to-mouth process.
At Gaby et Jules, they make almond flour from scratch using whole almonds shipped from California. The nuts are roasted, cut and mixed with confectioners sugar. For the filling, they use a French buttercream.
“The recipe has to be adapted according to the weather,” Rongier says. “Pittsburgh has four seasons, so it’s four times more difficult to make them. It has to be consistent. You want the customer to come back and come back and come back.”
Rongier came up with the idea for a French bakery when he was in the basement of Paris 66 bistro. Piquard whipped up his decadent desserts in the cellar and Rongier eventually decided his work needed its own ground-floor stage. The bakery locations are named after their grandfathers, Gaby and Jules.
Rongier says his ultimate goal is to franchise. This new café is one more step toward realizing his dream.
“I have a vision and we have such an incredible product. It’s the best macaron that you can get in the U.S., if not the planet,” he says. “This is the beginning of a journey.”