Home » Berkeley restaurant recognized for its potato puffs plans to franchise

Berkeley restaurant recognized for its potato puffs plans to franchise

Grégoire restaurant is finest recognized for 2 issues: high-end takeout and crispy, spherical potato puffs….

Grégoire restaurant is finest recognized for 2 issues: high-end takeout and crispy, spherical potato puffs. Tons and many potato puffs. 

“Individuals are hooked on these. They cannot go, they only cannot,” chef-owner Grégoire Jacquet jokes. “I feel somebody would stab me within the again.”

With their golden crust and delicate, fluffy inside, the potato puffs have been successful because the tiny French restaurant opened 20 years in the past, proper across the nook from Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Jacquet estimates that he makes 1000’s every month — however that’s about so far as the chef is keen to speak about them. He guards the recipe, and even the inspiration, so intently that staff signal a non-disclosure settlement earlier than making them.

Proprietor and chef Grégoire Jacquet holds a serving of his signature Potato Puffs at Grégoire take-out restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. on Jan. 12, 2022.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

For 20 years now, the hole-in-the-wall has been handing out take-out containers of fried rooster sandwiches to Berkeley college students and long-time residents alike, who all angle for a seat at two picnic tables out entrance. It could not sound like a elaborate spot, however don’t be fooled: The place has advantageous eating in its soul.

Jacquet, an exacting man with a proletariat streak, opened Grégoire after an extended profession making elegant meals at advantageous eating eating places. He spent 5 years working below legendary chef Jacky Robert’s now-shuttered Amelio’s, after which seven on the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco.

His bosses’ attitudes towards takeout have been clear: “My meals, you eat it at a desk as a result of it is good and it is able to eat and you must eat it now,’” he remembers. “They at all times thought their meals ought to by no means be put in a field.”

Customers Johnson Hsieh (left) and Shelley Chang photograph their order at the outdoor seating at Grégoire take-out restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. on Jan. 12, 2022.

Clients Johnson Hsieh (left) and Shelley Chang {photograph} their order on the out of doors seating at Grégoire take-out restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. on Jan. 12, 2022.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

Jacquet had very totally different plans for his restaurant. Like Chez Panisse across the nook, he wished a rotating seasonal menu, benefiting from every little thing California has to supply. And — most significantly — it needed to be accessible to the individuals.

A gregarious man by nature, Jacquet wished to open a small-scale restaurant the place he might work together together with his prospects. So, he and his spouse Tara pulled their life financial savings and opened the tiny 500 square-foot restaurant. To verify the meals stayed good on the transfer, he designed his very personal cardboard takeout containers, full with vents to assist preserve the steam out. He even patented the now-iconic octagon containers.

Because the face of the restaurant, Jacquet holds every little thing to the best normal (along with naming it after himself, he actually adorned the containers with an image of his face). 

Owner and chef Grégoire Jacquet assembles one of his patented takeout boxes at Grégoire take-out restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. on Jan. 12, 2022.

Proprietor and chef Grégoire Jacquet assembles one in all his patented takeout containers at Grégoire take-out restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. on Jan. 12, 2022.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

“I’ve preparatory recipes, every little thing comes from me,” Jacquet says. However the rotating menu retains the meals feeling recent and thrilling. “My thoughts is at all times working.” 


Even earlier than the pandemic, prospects would wait in lengthy traces to obtain their meals, watching skillful cooks breeze by grilling and prep by the big storefront window. The restaurant will get all types of shoppers, from college students to seasoned locals. Jacquet even remembers when one in all Chez Panisse’s longtime cooks stopped by to look at the enterprise in its early days. 

“Jean-Pierre Moullé lived up the road on Walnut and he used to stroll day-after-day in entrance of the restaurant to go to work. Someday he stopped and mentioned, ‘You understand what Grégoire? I want I had that concept earlier than you,” Jacquet says with amusing. “That was a pleasant factor to say.” 

Customers eat and with for their orders outside Grégoire take-out restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. on Jan. 12, 2022.

Clients eat and with for his or her orders outdoors Grégoire take-out restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. on Jan. 12, 2022.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

When the pandemic hit, Jacquet says it took his group a few weeks to determine their subsequent transfer. However they have been a lot better located than different eating places, and already had a take care of restaurant app Caviar to deal with takeout orders and supply. Whereas Grégoire misplaced its catering enterprise, it ended up with 10% extra prospects total.  

Within the time he’s owned the takeout restaurant, Jacquet has additionally saved busy with different initiatives, together with in 2006, when he opened the short-lived Socca Oven, a chickpea flour pizza joint. When it closed after a number of months over battle together with his enterprise accomplice, that didn’t gradual him down; he quickly opened a second, a lot bigger Grégoire in Oakland. Jacquet says he wished to see if he might function two companies with totally different menus directly. He succeeded for over a decade, however in 2017, burned out from splitting his days, he made the powerful resolution to shut the Oakland outpost. 

Cook Isiaias Alvarez prepares an order in the open kitchen at Grégoire take-out restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. on Jan. 12, 2022.

Cook dinner Isiaias Alvarez prepares an order within the open kitchen at Grégoire take-out restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. on Jan. 12, 2022.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

“I used to be drained,” He mentioned. “It turned manner too busy for me on my own and I needed to let one go,” Jacquet says. “I did not have that enterprise sense of [knowing] you do not have to do every little thing by your self.”

Now, on the cusp of his twentieth anniversary, he’s gearing as much as develop as soon as once more — this time as a franchise. 

“I began fascinated about franchising for an extended, very long time as a result of the idea is so superior,” Jacquet mentioned. “It is 20 years within the making.” 

Customers enjoy food at one of the outdoor seats at Grégoire take-out restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. on Jan. 12, 2022.

Clients get pleasure from meals at one of many out of doors seats at Grégoire take-out restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. on Jan. 12, 2022.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

Jacquet says he hopes to begin with a location in San Francisco and later increase to different Bay Space cities. Finally, he’d wish to have his identify on eating places across the nation, perhaps Los Angeles or New York. However for the native shops, he’s not fairly prepared to show the reins over to another person. His plan is to begin with a central kitchen, the place he and a group can put together meals and ship it to the brand new areas. His aim is a seamless system the place he can guarantee the brand new areas meet his requirements for high quality and consistency. 

“I have been engaged on the franchise for each second of the day,” Jacquet mentioned. “Organizing a franchise system is not any small potatoes.”

Customers wait to have their orders taken at the counter of Grégoire take-out restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. on Jan. 12, 2022.

Clients wait to have their orders taken on the counter of Grégoire take-out restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. on Jan. 12, 2022.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE