Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France

Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France

Now a New York Times BestsellerParis was practically perfect...Craig Carlson was the last person anyone would expect to open an American diner in Paris. He came from humble beginnings in a working-class town in Connecticut, had never worked in a restaurant, and didn't know anything about starting a brand-new business. But from his first visit to Paris, Craig knew he had found the city o/>Paris...

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Title:Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France
Author:Craig Carlson
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Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France Reviews

  • Julien

    I'm definitely not objective since I'm part of this story but I love the way it's written.

    It's also a chain of twist of faith that makes you wonder about life, the way it can unfold to give you opportunities to learn from one and an other and enjoy life.

    It's a human story, it's my kind of book!

    Love it!

  • Rebecca

    I really enjoyed this good-natured memoir about the travails of opening the first American-style diner in Paris. Carlson charts his somewhat chaotic growing-up years in Connecticut, the college study abroad experience that kindled his love for France, his years trying to make it as a screenwriter and director in Hollywood, his long-held dream of opening Breakfast in America, and finding a French sweetheart of his own (he’s coy about this, so I will be, too).

    Much of the book is devot

    I really enjoyed this good-natured memoir about the travails of opening the first American-style diner in Paris. Carlson charts his somewhat chaotic growing-up years in Connecticut, the college study abroad experience that kindled his love for France, his years trying to make it as a screenwriter and director in Hollywood, his long-held dream of opening Breakfast in America, and finding a French sweetheart of his own (he’s coy about this, so I will be, too).

    Much of the book is devoted to a blow-by-blow of the bureaucratic nightmare that was trying to open a restaurant, starting with getting investors on board and continuing through France’s ridiculously restrictive labor laws. (The impression I came away with was: France – great place to be an employee or rent property; terrible place to start a business.)

    The first branch of BIA opened in Paris in early 2003, and I believe there are now three franchises in the city. The next time I’m in Paris, I will certainly be looking one up to get myself a stack of blueberry and white chocolate chip pancakes and a plate of CC’s Big Mess, an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink breakfast hash served over home fries. (Releases September 6th.)

  • Barbara (The Bibliophage)

    From its very first page, I had a sense that this wasn't going to be your typical business memoir. Says Craig Carlson, "Notre Dame always reminds me of that mysterious interplay between heaven and earth, between the seen and the unseen."

    Pancakes in Paris is equal parts business, travel, and human drama with a side of all-day breakfast and bottomless coffee.

    Carlson comes from modest beginnings, yet he made it to college with virtually no parental support. He took a year abroad in Fra

    From its very first page, I had a sense that this wasn't going to be your typical business memoir. Says Craig Carlson, "Notre Dame always reminds me of that mysterious interplay between heaven and earth, between the seen and the unseen."

    Pancakes in Paris is equal parts business, travel, and human drama with a side of all-day breakfast and bottomless coffee.

    Carlson comes from modest beginnings, yet he made it to college with virtually no parental support. He took a year abroad in France during college and fell in love with Paris. He then returned to the States, completed his journalism and film degrees, and ultimately became involved in the movie industry. Early in his film career, he returned to Paris and realized there was a potential need for American diner-style restaurants. He begins to percolate the idea, despite his complete lack of business and restaurant background!

    Every step of the journey makes you root for the success of Breakfast in America (BIA), and Carlson himself. Not only do we learn about the challenges of getting investors on board, but Carlson details many, many amazing instances of French labor laws. He had no idea how employee-focused those laws are before opening BIA!

    Craig (whose name is hilariously mangled by practically every Parisian), has a warm and gently funny writing style that's like you're talking about his life over a couple of burgers. He interjects French words throughout, which I thought might bother me as the book progressed. But he strikes the perfect note with their use just as a bilingual speaker might do -- not too much and often in humorous spots.

    His writing does veer into the folksy sometimes, which could bother some readers. For example: "But despite our défense de fumer (no smoking) sign, there was no way of stopping the pesky second-hand smoke from moseying on over there."

    Although at first I thought Carlson might be a leetle too full of himself with this sentence, "But thanks to such an eclectic mix of regulars found only in Paris, BIA was fast becoming a neighborhood hangout like no other in the world," I also came to believe in his humble and caring attitude as I read on.

    This book isn't just about business and Paris. Craig shares many personal reflections, including his experiences with coming out and finding a life partner in Julien. He is self-deprecating and genuine.

    To my surprise, there are four recipes at the end of the book as well. Two are from BIA and two from Julien's mother Elisabeth. The perfect blend of American and French styles, just the note this entire book hits!

    Thanks to Craig Carlson, Sourcebooks and NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  • Kathleen

    Incroyable! I enjoyed reading Craig Carlson's humorous memoir about his life, dreams, struggles and obstacles in opening and running a restaurant in Paris.

    Since the author spent much of his adult life in Paris, he occasionally used French expressions, but translated them in English in the same or next sentence. I felt that this added authenticity to his story.

    Learning about business and work rules that exist in France to protect the employee was an extra bonus.

    Several days after writing this

    Incroyable! I enjoyed reading Craig Carlson's humorous memoir about his life, dreams, struggles and obstacles in opening and running a restaurant in Paris.

    Since the author spent much of his adult life in Paris, he occasionally used French expressions, but translated them in English in the same or next sentence. I felt that this added authenticity to his story.

    Learning about business and work rules that exist in France to protect the employee was an extra bonus.

    Several days after writing this review I am still thinking about Pancakes in Paris, so I've rounded 3.5 stars up to 4 stars.

    Thank you to NetGalley, Sourcebooks, and the author, Craig Carlson for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this ebook on my kindle.

    4⭐️

  • Donna Davis

    The American dream has become harder for ordinary people to attain, but Carlson is living proof that it can happen; yet some of us may need to go somewhere else to find it. In his upbeat, congenial memoir, “the pancake guy” chronicles his journey, from the kid of a wretchedly dysfunctional home—and I don’t use the term lightly—to the owner of Breakfast in America, his own restaurant franchise in France. This title was a bright spot in my reading lineup last month, and it can be a bright spot in

    The American dream has become harder for ordinary people to attain, but Carlson is living proof that it can happen; yet some of us may need to go somewhere else to find it. In his upbeat, congenial memoir, “the pancake guy” chronicles his journey, from the kid of a wretchedly dysfunctional home—and I don’t use the term lightly—to the owner of Breakfast in America, his own restaurant franchise in France. This title was a bright spot in my reading lineup last month, and it can be a bright spot in yours too. Thank you to Sourcebooks and Net Galley for the DRC, which I received free in exchange for an honest review.

    Is this a thing that any kid in America could have done? Not so much. Carlson has a rare blend of intelligence, organization, and social skills; above and beyond all else, he possesses unstoppable determination, clear focus, and a work ethic that never flags for one tiny minute until he discovers he is close to working himself to death. Those lacking talent and determination may never reach the end of the rainbow as this author has done; that much is clear. But oh, what fun to share the ride with him!

    Given his family’s expectations for him, or lack thereof, it’s amazing he finished high school, and his acquisition of a college education is more remarkable still. But it is his junior year at a state college in Connecticut that plants the seed that will sprout and grow into a way of life; he is invited to spend his school year in Paris. Once he’s there, the tumblers click, and he knows that he has found his people.

    As Carlson’s story unspools, he debunks stereotypes believed by many Americans, and a few of them are ones I believed too until I read this memoir. Carlson delivers setting in a way much more immediate than any number of Google searches can provide, but it’s his insights regarding French culture, law, and society that make his memoir so captivating. The prose is lean and occasionally hilarious. He plucks choice, juicy vignettes from his journey all along the way, and this makes us feel as if we are riding quietly on his shoulder taking it all in as he goes.

    If you’ve never been to France and don’t intend to, you can still enjoy this book. If you don’t like pancakes or any aspect of the traditional American breakfast, it doesn’t matter. Carlson is enormously entertaining, and so his story stands on its own merits. I am furthermore delighted to see that the only recipe that is inserted into his narrative is actually a joke. A small collection of actual recipes is inserted at the end, and although I never, ever, ever do this, I intend to try one of them out tonight! But even if you skip the recipe section entirely, you should read this memoir. It’s too much fun to miss. The best news of all is that it’s available for purchase right now.

    Get it, and read it!

    PS...Watch out for the recipe for "The Mess", which includes his delicious, artery-clogging home fries. The potatoes came out great, but The Mess fails to list all ingredients; I gathered all the ingredients and came across the point where you're supposed to add the bacon. What bacon? Happily I read it ahead of time and am good enough in the kitchen to figure it out. Also, instead of standardized measurements telling you to add a quarter cup of this and half a cup of that, he tells you how many ounces. My guess is it's because he's been cooking in France so long. Once you figure the whole thing out it's delicious, and what he calls 1 serving actually was enough to feed myself, my husband (a Japanese man with a lesser appetite than our immense Viking author) and our daughter. Yum.

  • Debbie

    I smiled and laughed way too much through this poor guy's trials and tribulations. I felt so bad, but he wrote in such a way that you could not help it. It's not a woe is me book. He does describe all his problems, but he doesn't linger on them. He complains how the system works and how unfair it is, but he just goes on trying to fulfill his dream.

    I enjoyed reading and living Craig's dream. I found it to be very entertaining and interesting. It's amazing what people will do. Those Fr

    I smiled and laughed way too much through this poor guy's trials and tribulations. I felt so bad, but he wrote in such a way that you could not help it. It's not a woe is me book. He does describe all his problems, but he doesn't linger on them. He complains how the system works and how unfair it is, but he just goes on trying to fulfill his dream.

    I enjoyed reading and living Craig's dream. I found it to be very entertaining and interesting. It's amazing what people will do. Those French laws were definitely set up for the employees and not the employers. I am so hungry for an American diner breakfast right now. HA!

    This is one memoir that I truly enjoyed and would definitely recommend. I also enjoyed the fact that it took place in Paris. One place that I always wanted to go, but never made it.

    Thanks Sourcebooks and Net Galley for providing a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. This was definitely a winner in my opinion!

  • Lena

    Ah Paris... you complicated bitch. This is the story of a hardworking man fighting for his American dream in France. Things got ugly.

    Labor laws in France are absolutely shocking. It's a place where a groundskeeper can beat your horse to death and successfully sue you for wrongful termination. Our MC had a waiter who worked one month out of the twelve he was paid for and a cook who asked for a raise then took two years off -

    There were multiple law suits, government crack downs, Anti and

    Ah Paris... you complicated bitch. This is the story of a hardworking man fighting for his American dream in France. Things got ugly.

    Labor laws in France are absolutely shocking. It's a place where a groundskeeper can beat your horse to death and successfully sue you for wrongful termination. Our MC had a waiter who worked one month out of the twelve he was paid for and a cook who asked for a raise then took two years off -

    There were multiple law suits, government crack downs, Anti and Pro Americanism, nights in jail, blackmail, and somewhere along the way the forty year old virgin realized he was gay. Somehow that last bit of personal craziness just blended in with the rest.

    Breakfast in America is now a success but...

    The next time you go to France appreciate every open store and restaurant, they are individual miracles.

  • Mikey B.

    The author goes to France (Paris and Rouen) as a student, falls in love with France, and dreams of going back. He eventually does when the idea of setting up an American style diner with American breakfasts and hamburgers for lunch and supper occurs to him as a unique business enterprise. Of course, this being Paris espressos and alcohol must be served. His clientele varies from tourists, expatriate Americans, and the locals who even drink the American style coffee offered!

    There is h

    The author goes to France (Paris and Rouen) as a student, falls in love with France, and dreams of going back. He eventually does when the idea of setting up an American style diner with American breakfasts and hamburgers for lunch and supper occurs to him as a unique business enterprise. Of course, this being Paris espressos and alcohol must be served. His clientele varies from tourists, expatriate Americans, and the locals who even drink the American style coffee offered!

    There is humour sprinkled in all of this, as well as anguishing moments overcoming the French bureaucracy. This autobiography, like most, can become too self-absorbed.

    If you ever think how glorious it would be to run a restaurant the author can disabuse you of this quickly with the constant renovations, staff problems (its very difficult to fire someone in France), health inspector issues, and quirky customers.

    Anyway all best wishes to Craig Carlson for pursuing his Paris dream, sadly his two restaurants are located are either side of Ile de la Cite where the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral took place this April.

  • Meg

    A surprisingly touching memoir, this easy read follows Craig Carlson's journey from his first visit to Paris as an under-grad through his trials and tribulations of opening up a diner in Paris. This book is perfect for any francophile or foodie and while his journey to open his diner is certainly bumpy, he's very candid in sharing his problems while remaining passionate about the venture. The writing is not sophisticated but the story is charming and captivating and by the end you'll find yourse

    A surprisingly touching memoir, this easy read follows Craig Carlson's journey from his first visit to Paris as an under-grad through his trials and tribulations of opening up a diner in Paris. This book is perfect for any francophile or foodie and while his journey to open his diner is certainly bumpy, he's very candid in sharing his problems while remaining passionate about the venture. The writing is not sophisticated but the story is charming and captivating and by the end you'll find yourself checking airfare deals to France or at least craving some good old fashioned pancakes. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this book.

  • Tom Stamper

    We ate in the Latin Quarter location in 2010 due to the recommendation of either Frommers or Rick Steves. It was good and better priced than the typical Paris restaurant. I had the hamburger which was tasty and yet between the meat and bun, something altogether different than the same combination in America. It tasted neither American nor French to me, but maybe British. I thought at the time how difficult it would be to set up a supply chain for American foods in Paris. So when I saw that the f

    We ate in the Latin Quarter location in 2010 due to the recommendation of either Frommers or Rick Steves. It was good and better priced than the typical Paris restaurant. I had the hamburger which was tasty and yet between the meat and bun, something altogether different than the same combination in America. It tasted neither American nor French to me, but maybe British. I thought at the time how difficult it would be to set up a supply chain for American foods in Paris. So when I saw that the founder had written a book I curious as to how deep he would go into the process.

    Reading the book you realize that supply chain was maybe the least of the problems running a restaurant in Paris. He touches on it, but it doesn't get a lot of ink. It's the labor laws that are outrageous. That anyone works at all is a testament to personal integrity because the law pretty much allows people to feign any kind of illness physical or mental and then collect full pay for a year or two without working. How any business can sustain itself while paying for freeloaders and featherbedders is hard to imagine. The novelty of this restaurant and the fact that the profit margin on breakfast food is greater than other meals is probably what saved him. The troubles with the workforce and the government were such that Craig Carlson even acknowledges that his attitude about it makes him seem like some "right-winger," which he is not. That alone shows you how the Left-Right divide in France is made up of entirely different criteria than here in America.

    The book gets off to a slow start in my opinion. His attempts at funding for his restaurant are too detailed and too forced with humor. His Hollywood career is barely mentioned in specifics which might have been more interesting than what he gives us about his time working at Disneyland. You get the impression that he doesn't want to name drop and it might have kept him from revealing some of his better stories. But once Carlson secures the funding from the restaurant the book really takes off and the suspense and problems along the way carry the story to the finish line.

    You come away from the book liking Craig Carlson and happy for his success, and yet I wonder if his honesty about dealing with the French legal system won't cause him more problems in the future. I would never try to start a business in France after reading this.

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