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Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  1,653 ratings  ·  300 reviews
Now a New York Times Bestseller

Paris was practically perfect...

Craig Carlson was the last person anyone would expect to open an American diner in Paris. He came from humble beginnings in a working-class town in Connecticut, had never worked in a restaurant, and didn't know anything about starting a brand-new business. But from his first visit to Paris, Craig knew he had fo
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Sourcebooks
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  1,653 ratings  ·  300 reviews

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May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm definitely not objective since I'm part of this story but I love the way it's written.
It's also a chain of twist of faith that makes you wonder about life, the way it can unfold to give you opportunities to learn from one and an other and enjoy life.
It's a human story, it's my kind of book!
Love it!
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
(3.5) I really enjoyed this good-natured memoir about the travails of opening the first American-style diner in Paris. Carlson charts his somewhat chaotic growing-up years in Connecticut, the college study abroad experience that kindled his love for France, his years trying to make it as a screenwriter and director in Hollywood, his long-held dream of opening Breakfast in America, and finding a French sweetheart of his own (he’s coy about this, so I will be, too).

Much of the book is devoted to a
Mikey B.
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
The author goes to France (Paris and Rouen) as a student, falls in love with France, and dreams of going back. He eventually does when the idea of setting up an American style diner with American breakfasts and hamburgers for lunch and supper occurs to him as a unique business enterprise. Of course, this being Paris espressos and alcohol must be served. His clientele varies from tourists, expatriate Americans, and the locals who even drink the American style coffee offered!

There is humour sprink
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
I smiled and laughed way too much through this poor guy's trials and tribulations. I felt so bad, but he wrote in such a way that you could not help it. It's not a woe is me book. He does describe all his problems, but he doesn't linger on them. He complains how the system works and how unfair it is, but he just goes on trying to fulfill his dream.

I enjoyed reading and living Craig's dream. I found it to be very entertaining and interesting. It's amazing what people will do. Those French laws we
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
From its very first page, I had a sense that this wasn't going to be your typical business memoir. Says Craig Carlson, "Notre Dame always reminds me of that mysterious interplay between heaven and earth, between the seen and the unseen."

Pancakes in Paris is equal parts business, travel, and human drama with a side of all-day breakfast and bottomless coffee.

Carlson comes from modest beginnings, yet he made it to college with virtually no parental support. He took a year abroad in France during c
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, nonfiction

Ah Paris... you complicated bitch. This is the story of a hardworking man fighting for his American dream in France. Things got ugly.

Labor laws in France are absolutely shocking. It's a place where a groundskeeper can beat your horse to death and successfully sue you for wrongful termination. Our MC had a waiter who worked one month out of the twelve he was paid for and a cook who asked for a raise then took two years off - paid years off!

There were multiple law suits, government crack downs,
Tom Stamper
Apr 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, food
We ate in the Latin Quarter location in 2010 due to the recommendation of either Frommers or Rick Steves. It was good and better priced than the typical Paris restaurant. I had the hamburger which was tasty and yet between the meat and bun, something altogether different than the same combination in America. It tasted neither American nor French to me, but maybe British. I thought at the time how difficult it would be to set up a supply chain for American foods in Paris. So when I saw that the f ...more
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, non-fiction, memoir
Incroyable! I enjoyed reading Craig Carlson's humorous memoir about his life, dreams, struggles and obstacles in opening and running a restaurant in Paris.

Since the author spent much of his adult life in Paris, he occasionally used French expressions, but translated them in English in the same or next sentence. I felt that this added authenticity to his story.

Learning about business and work rules that exist in France to protect the employee was an extra bonus.

Several days after writing this
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it
A surprisingly touching memoir, this easy read follows Craig Carlson's journey from his first visit to Paris as an under-grad through his trials and tribulations of opening up a diner in Paris. This book is perfect for any francophile or foodie and while his journey to open his diner is certainly bumpy, he's very candid in sharing his problems while remaining passionate about the venture. The writing is not sophisticated but the story is charming and captivating and by the end you'll find yourse ...more
Patricia Sands
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dream BIG!

An uplifting memoir of how dreams can come true. The ups and downs of this journey were amazing and yet through will power, good friends and belief in himself, Carlson achieved his dream and then some. Paris is always romantic, so discovering his true love there is the icing on the pancake of this remarkable story.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Remind me to never open a restaurant, especially in another country. I was so stressed about the author’s problems that I had trouble reading it. When he had a nervous breakdown, it was almost a relief because he got the help he needed in his life and career. I kept thinking that his problems were caused by being too nice to people. He admitted this when he said that his husband finally joined the business to be the tough guy. I would like to try his pancakes and bacon! The book finished around ...more
Donna Davis
The American dream has become harder for ordinary people to attain, but Carlson is living proof that it can happen; yet some of us may need to go somewhere else to find it. In his upbeat, congenial memoir, “the pancake guy” chronicles his journey, from the kid of a wretchedly dysfunctional home—and I don’t use the term lightly—to the owner of Breakfast in America, his own restaurant franchise in France. This title was a bright spot in my reading lineup last month, and it can be a bright spot in ...more
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
A diverting account of running a restaurant as an American in Paris. It has a lot of the tropes common to the American in Paris--overcoming a lack of sophistication, the gap between Americans and their government (when in the hands of Republicans), and the horrors of French bureaucracy (although as a business owner, Carlson's struggles were truly nightmarish).

Carlson is an engaging character as a blue collar kid from a rough upbringing who first falls in love with the French language, then the c
Amanda Miller
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars
Joann M
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I admit it, I will ready any book that has Paris in the title. It’s a dream of mine to visit Paris someday, though I admit I’m afraid I may have such high expectations, I worry that it won’t live up to it! So, Pancakes in Paris was chosen solely because it had Paris in the title.

This was a very interesting and enjoyable read. It is an account of Craig Carlson actually setting up a restaurant in Paris called Breakfast in America. It was fascinating watching his dream come alive. It was not an eas
I was surprised to see I didn't get bored while reading this book. I am not one interested in reading about people's businesses, about how they fulfilled their dreams and passions, and the process of all that. What drew me to this book was "pancakes". This is what set in motion the narrator's business idea, too: to open a classic American diner outside US, in Paris, France.

It sounds charming and exciting, but reading about all the things he had to go through to make it happen makes one realize t
Keep Calm Novel On
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
NetGalley provided a copy of the ePub in exchange for an honest review.

Craig Carlson’s Pancakes in Paris—Living the American Dream in France takes the reader on his journey from Connecticut to California to France. He came from the ‘other side of the track’ without a consistent support system and yet he was able to forge a positive path for himself. The many tools he gathered along the way helped him make his dreams come true.

Carlson is drawn to the pull of Paris upon arrival during a college ex
Leah Matchett
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
The various blurbs of Pancakes in Paris suggest it is as good as a stack of American pancakes, hot off the griddle. Indeed it is easy to digest, not poorly written, if a little heavy handed at times. However, like the American breakfast food it lacks substance, and fails to keep the reader full for any length of time. A one-sided memoir that doesn't engage in any satisfying way with why the barriers the author experienced exist, but instead falls into the trope of alienating the French as nonsen ...more
Cindy Burnett
Aug 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: net-galley

Craig Carlson wrote Pancakes in Paris about fulfilling his dream of opening an American breakfast restaurant in Paris named Breakfast in America. While I enjoyed the book, I wished the beginning sections about his early life and the in depth details about funding, etc. of Breakfast in America could have been condensed a fair amount. I enjoyed the book more once he got to the operations in Paris. I loved reading about Paris and the people there and liked learning about the labor laws in France an
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was in Craig's study abroad program at UCONN so I thought it would be fun to read and reminisce about it 32 years later....but I didn't expect to learn so much more about him, his trials and tribulations, his impact on so many people and his successful life. Good, funny read and a great gift especially for the holidays. ...more
Sep 23, 2020 rated it liked it
While I enjoyed Craig Carlson's memoir, Pancakes in Paris, I can only agree with his subtitle "Living the American Dream in France" if your idea of a dream is opening diners, dealing with French bureaucrats and laborers, and working yourself until you collapse. In other words, the book is a fine place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live it.

Carlson admits he's an unlikely candidate to move to Paris and open a successful chain of diners, Breakfast in America, BIA. Originally from upstate Connect
Alex Moskalyuk
Dec 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Great humorous writing with insights into French life, traditions, customs, and the way of running a business. The book makes you cringe towards the end when Craig is dealing with various peculiarities of the French labor law. All throughout the book, the reader is rooting for the character, so the semi-happy ending (he seems to attract a lion's share of lawsuits, but things end generally well) is nice.

Some of the interesting insights for those who love France and Paris' gastronomic scene inclu
Sarah Wagner
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Starting up an American diner in Paris has to be fun, right...well, maybe. As Craig Carlson tells his story of discovering France, realizing the only thing it's missing is a good American breakfast, and then working to correct that oversight, I wondered how this man kept going. His tale is likely familiar to anyone who's attempted to start a business: the struggle to find investors, navigating the rules and regulations, figuring out how to manage a staff. Yet, he attempted to do all of this in F ...more
Aug 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this memoir very much! It was written in the first person with much honesty and intimacy. Carlson's family of origin was dysfunctional, but he was resilient and had the help of many caring adults and mentors, beginning in his childhood.

There were many, slightly too many, detailed descriptions of Carlson's struggles with landlords, employees, and French laws as he pursued his dream to establish American diners in Paris. His relationship with Julien blended well with the ongoing success
Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition
This was an amusing and heartfelt memoir of a nice guy who loved everything French ever since he was a boy and had the unique idea of creating an America Diner in Paris. It was interesting to read about all the ups and down of running a business in a countrry other than the one you grew up in and how things you took for granted that were common knowledge in your country were not exactly the same in another place.

I think the starting up of the business seemed to take very long and would have like
Emily Polson
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtq, memoir
A romping fun memoir about an American screenwriter who opened up a pancake diner in the gastronomic capital of the world, Paris. While the writing is littered with cliches (e.g. "[This vision] would require a whole new set of twists and turns before my crazy dream could become a reality") it didn't come across as cumbersome. Rather, because the storytelling is so tight, the narrative moved steadily forward through to its satisfying conclusion. ...more
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
an easy read – fascinating and fun. Also an amazing tale of an American who had never owned a small business, making a success of opening not one but eventually three restaurants in Paris, despite the famously employee-friendly French labor laws. I'd like to check out his diners ... except that when in Paris, we prefer eating at crêperies and the like : ) ...more
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: digital
I love a good entrepreneur story. I also love a good travel story. This gave me both! Wow! Hats off to Craig for living his dream - which sometimes seemed like a nightmare.
Elisabet Tiselius
Jan 06, 2021 rated it liked it
What I like most about the book is that while recounting all the struggles with French administrative tradition (which anyone having lived in France will recognize), it never falls into the trap of pointing fingers or making fun of "French people".

I like the optimism which really transpires on every page, even when things are really sombre. Finally, I really like how Julien's mother is portrayed.
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