WICKER PARK — South Korea native and Uptown-based restaurant manager Richard Kim has officially opened Chicago’s second Tous Les Jours franchise in Wicker Park, 1726 W. Division St.
During the month of June, the French-Korean bakery will be open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays.
Tous Les Jours will eventually be open 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays and 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays.
“We are going to dial back our hours for about a month so my staff can fine tune everything,” Kim said. “Until I know we are able to deliver our service and product to the high standard I want for Wicker Park.”
Meaning “every day” in French, Tous Les Jours is a chain bakery based in South Korea with more than 1,500 shops worldwide.
In Chicago-proper, the chain has a home in the Chinatown neighborhood at 2144 S. Archer Ave.
Tous Les Jours has found success in several Chicago suburbs, but those bakeries are near where large concentrations of Asian-American populations live, Kim said.
Kim told Block Club Chicago in March he hoped Wicker Park locals and tourists would embrace Tous Les Jours and help transition French-Asian baked goods from “trendy” to “mainstream.”
“There are few neighborhoods like Wicker Park [that] have as
much trendiness, would embrace something so new, different and delicious,” he said.
Hur Young-in opened the first Tous Les Jours in South Korea in 1988, infusing French pastry recipes with Korean flavors, such as green tea and sesame.
He also took savory pastries with ham and cheese and added sweetness with condensed milk and honey — a concept popular in Asia.
The Wicker Park franchise will carry traditional French items, such as muffins, croque monsieur, croissants, feuilletes, pan bread and croquettes.
South Korean pastries will include a variety of flavors, from custard to pumpkin to red bean.
For example, try the soboro. A “Korean streusel bread,” soboro has a pastry bread cookie base that is coated with a hard streusel topping of flour, sugar and butter and filled with sweet potato, red bean or strawberry jam.
Kim was born in South Korea and moved to Chicago at the age of 2. He grew up in the city, but his parents later moved to suburban Northbrook.
Kim lived in the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods for about a decade after college. For seven of those years, he lived at the corner of North and Ashland avenues, near Hollywood Grill.
Now 35, Kim lives in Uptown.
Tous Les Jours has already flourished in places like Texas and Colorado, which gives Kim hope for the Chicago market.
“Now they’re popping up everywhere … To me, that’s a sign that people are more widely accepting of Korean food, Korean culture,” he said. “It’ll only be a matter of time before we’re clamoring for more French-Asian bakeries in our city.”
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