THE FRENCH CONFECTION: The Grove will get a soupçon of French flair this weekend when Ladurée opens its first West Coast location smack dab in the middle of the center, opposite its landmark lake and dancing fountain. Grove owner Rick Caruso stopped by the shop on Monday to assess its progress and take advantage of a photo op with Elisabeth Holder Raberin and Pierre-Antoine Raberin, copresidents of Ladurée U.S.A. “We are so lucky to have met him,” said Holder Raberin. “I hear he’s been by the shop every day to track its progress.”
No doubt, Caruso is eager for Ladurée to open its doors during prime holiday shopping season. The 2,000-square-foot, two-story location will house a retail shop and pastry counter, as well as a 30-person private event space and a 50-seat outdoor dining area open for lunch and dinner adjacent to the fountain.
Hedging its bets on the Los Angeles market, Raberin said the company chose to plant its first West Coast flag in two places at once. Later this month, another location will open on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. “We have been in the U.S. for almost five years, including two locations in New York and Miami, so it was a natural progression. We had two great retail opportunities we could not pass up so we decided to take the challenge. But really, L.A. is such a large city for us French it’s like opening in different cities.”
Added his wife, “L.A. is also such a world influence because of its star system; it is a great way to work with the movie industry, sets, etc., similar to the experience we had with ‘Marie Antoinette’ by Sofia Coppola or ‘Gossip Girl.’” The former film used macarons in one key scene, and the latter show called out Ladurée as Blair Waldorf’s favorite pastry house.
While The Grove decor is a tribute to the Empire style of Madeleine Castaing, the Beverly Hills location will have a more Seventies California vibe, with 30 seats including a small outdoor area. However, only The Grove location has a full-service restaurant and pastry lab, both manned by a French chef.
“As French people, we are picky about the food, so we wanted to offer the best, but localized to the market,” said Holder Raberin, whose family firm, Groupe Holder, acquired Ladurée from the founding family in 1993 and has since expanded it around the world. To that end, the restaurant menu will include healthy options such as salads and a tofu burger.
As with its other locations, Ladurée will offer an exclusive macaron flavor for Los Angeles: passionfruit. “We were at our friends Richard and Laurie Stark’s house,” said Holder Raberin of the Chrome Hearts owners, “and she had this beautiful flower in her garden. It was passionfruit, and I said, ‘That’s going to be our new flavor.’” There will also be a raspberry tart and an ice cream incorporating the fruit.
Next up for the company is U.S. e-commerce and a location in Washington, D.C.