After visiting the teachers and parents at Hancock Park Elementary school in the pouring rain this morning, we decided to stop in Café Parisien for some hot chocolate and a visit with owner Sebastien Cornic. (Apparently, it’s been raining almost constantly since Café Parisien opened, causing Cornic to comment, “it’s like the universe brought Paris to Larchmont!”)
Café Parisien, located in the former Prado space at 244 N Larchmont, is the perfect place to warm up from the rain. It’s still in the “soft open” stage, serving breakfast, brunch and lunch…but will add dinner soon. Cornic also runs Meet in Paris, in Culver City, which is humming along with its seasoned staff of 10 years, but Cornic says he’s spending most of him time on Larchmont these days, getting Café Parisien up and running.
Cornic comes from a French food family. His great grandfather was a farmer, his grandfather was in the sugar business and his father owned a number of large seafood brasseries in Brittany, where Cornic grew up. He and his wife moved to Southern California to get into the restaurant business. After first working for a large restaurant group in San Diego, Cornic and his wife moved to Los Angeles and opened the Culver City restaurant in 2009. (It was during the recession, but Cornic said that actually made the initial investment a bit easier than it would have been at another time.)
Cornic said he found Larchmont when he was looking for a second location. While the neighborhood wasn’t initially on his radar, a realtor showed him the available space, and he was hooked. “We saw the space, we saw the potential, and we thought we could do well here, ” he said. “We wanted a neighborhood; we wanted a family feel.”
“I found both on Larchmont,” said Cornic. “Larchmont is very friendly. We opened last Wednesday and served 100 people. The next day we served 200 [without any formal publicity], so it’s been a great start for us.”
Café Parisien offers authentic French comfort food in an “all day cafe” setting. “We’re not a celebrity chef by any means,” says Cornic, referring to the more low-key vibe he’s trying to create. But he does aim for the same kind of personal touches a celebrity chef would bring, promising he will always have classic French bistro dishes on the menu that he develops himself. And he prefers to use only French food and bread suppliers, too, so he can give customers the feeling they are walking into a cafe in Paris.