RIP Le Petit Paris

By Ashley Robinson

I was truly devastated when it was announced Le Petite Paris was closing (announced in September). As I have mentioned more than once in this outlet that I had found a refuge in the little boutique/café on 19th street; finding out that your favorite place to hide … was leaving you … was … hard to stomach, to say the least. It still is hard to fathom this weeks later without tears sweltering.

It was like finding out that your favorite hiding spot behind the front hedge had become too small for you. There was nothing you could do about it, staring at the worn empty spot filled with emotional memories.

The Facebook post announcing the impending closure gave no reason for its closing of the doors. My friends and I discussed the possibilities, we were totally baffled! The café had never seemed a consistent hot spot, but with the recent addition of the back patio (and the boutique that could have been done away with years ago), it never seemed like a slow death. I know Tassina and Ruben, the married couple who owned the place put their heart and soul into the venture, and I salute them for making a difference in the local culture.

(Tassina was the one who came up with the idea for the electrical parade during the Christmas season last year …)

(And props to Ruben! In an interview with Sacramento Press, he said, “Her dream was Le Petite Paris. And my dream was to make her happy.” Take notes, gentlemen.)

The closure of Le Petite Paris is a major loss for Midtown Sacramento. In a world of funky coffee shops and lemonized-blueberry scones served on Fiesta-ware to the tunes of Jack Johnson, it was a welcome change to sip quality French press coffee lounging on a velvet armchair while humming along to Edith Piaf. The soft glow of the chandeliers was a sweet change to the modernist crap I see in other respected coffee joints around town.

It was lovely to have something original and interesting and feminine in Sacramento.

I found the customer service at LPP most of the time to be top-notch. The Handle District, in particular, has a reputation for owners actually taking an interest in their patrons. Kolea and Marcus at L Bar seem to actually enjoy what they are doing as they engage with regulars at the bar. Patrick at Mulvaney’s actually seems interested in knowing what diners think of his food. Heath Hamilton at Coif knows just about everyone in town and is invested in the lives of the people whose hair he styles. The waitresses at Zocalo’s I’ve had several times in a row offer welcome hellos. Even the guys working the wine shop at 58 Degrees appear to take pleasure in swapping wine theories with customers.

In a world of numbers and digital accounting, it’s nice to be a face with a name at my favorite spots. And because those owners/employees take the time to know my name … know that I am going to want a large cup of coffee with room for cream before I even step up to the cashier … is the reason I continue returning. I wish I could reward that excellent business acumen more often, unfortunately I can not.

Maybe that’s what hurt the most about the LPP closing: that I could have gone there more? My husband would disagree as it was about the only place I ever wanted to get brunch on the weekend. But what as consumers in Sacramento can we do more to make sure that other quality business ventures, like Le Petite Paris don’t meet the same fate? What can we do to show our support without breaking the bank? How can we show that their investment in us is being repaid? (The capitalist in me also says, what could LPP have done more to bring in my business?)

Perhaps ventures like Girls on the Grid is a great way to start … by supporting local business owners who made their dreams a reality and spreading the word about new finds to friends. If our dream is to live in a town/city where shop owners know our name and our story while providing a unique service in Sacramento, we will have worked together to create a better space.

SEE ALSO: Becky Warren’s Discussion: What Local Sacramento Businesses Would You Miss?

My hope is that another entrepreneurial adventurer will take on that sad empty LPP spot and give us something we can love just as much. But for the time-being, I will be looking for another niche coffee shop. No lemon-flavored scones, please.

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