Since opening its dedicated pop-up space in February, The French Spot has grown into a neighborhood darling that makes keto-breaking-worthy croissants.
Between 2020 and 2021, over 860 restaurants closed in SF; during that same time, just 535 eateries opened. But, despite downtown’s struggles and locally headquartered tech companies conducting mass layoffs, San Francisco is rebounding — especially in regard to the city’s gastronomic scene.
2022 has seen a slew of new restaurant and bar ventures open inside spaces vacated by the pandemic. The French Spot, an artisanal bakery that puts its own modern twists and flavor profiles on traditional French pastries, has amassed a cult-like following since debuting its San Francisco bakery at 1042 Larkin Street in February of this year, taking over the address once occupied by Mr. Holmes Bakhouse.
(I stumbled across the bakery earlier this summer as they began setting up shop inside the space sandwiched between a nail salon and two residential hotels. Long butcher boards and a glass display were brought inside as what can only be described as the most heavenly aroma of caramelized sugar and brown butter made it into the street. I actually paused; I just stood around the corner. I wish such a scent could be captured in a tincture; they already had won over a fan before I even sank my teeth into their pastries.)
Much like any successful restaurant with an entrepreneurial bend, The French Spot started with a humble story. Its two founders, lauded pastry chefs Vincent Attali (who served as the executive pastry chef at LinkedIn) and his wife, Maria, began making to-order pastries and decorated cakes from a professional kitchen before opening their own dedicated space in 2022. The initial pastry business concept, which would later become The French Spot, started with a Kickstarter campaign. It was supported by nearly 270 people and made it possible for the pair to raise over $21,000 — four times their initial goal.
The success of the crowdfunding allowed Attali to push The French Spot’s first business model for customers: “[people] can either take out a pastry subscription, delivered weekly, every other week, or every month, or place a one-off order during the weekend pop-up.”
Fast forward to February 2022, the duo debuted their dedicated pop-up space in San Francisco’s Lower Nob Hill neighborhood with Valentine’s Day-theme baked goods. Now open Thursday through Sunday between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. — however, closing hours are subject to change, depending on pastry availability on any given day — it’s not uncommon to see a small line snake out of The French Spot’s storefront any time it’s open. People ogle and point and Instagram the colorful French pastries that nod at Attali’s fondness for Asian desserts.
The French Spot also serves espresso and coffee beverages, each drink served in compostable to-go cups; the bakery’s pastries are enveloped in compost-friendly, unbleached paper and packed inside equally as environmentally-friendly boxes.
While you’re enjoying, say, one of their phenomenal quiches or special “caramelized croissants” or decadent hand pies — (the lemon meringue remains my favorite) — outside on one of the bakery’s bistro-stye tables, you can feel good about not abiding any single-use plastics.
Is there a better way to celebrate getting off the workweek wheel of late-stage capitalism than indulge in a laminated pastry? We’d be hard-pressed to find one.
// It appears The French Spot’s current website and subscription pages are down, but the bakery’s Instagram page (@thefrenchspot) is active and includes updates/menu offerings; The French Spot is open on Thursday through Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 1042 Larkin Street, with a Belmont pop-up held Saturdays at 501 Old County Road; for wholesale orders and questions about The French Spot’s pastry delivery/subscription option, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feature image: Courtesy of [at]dietichin on Instagram