J'aime French Bakery on its way to Center City

Bastien Ornano outside his future J’aime French Bakery, 212 S. 12th St.

How many thousands of Americans have packed up and moved to France.

Now here’s a tasty case of reverse migration.

Bastien Ornano, 27, is taking his MBA and his diploma from a French pastry school to Philadelphia later this summer to open J’aime French Bakery at 212 S. 12th St., the former Cafe 12 in Washington Square West.

While in high school, Ornano became a Yankeephile during his time as an exchange student in California. It was then that he had a dream of opening a French bakery in the United States. He got the MBA and did the corporate thing for two years with an IT company – saving his money all the while. He says he quit “to follow my dream before it would be too late.” He enrolled at Lenôtre in Paris, got his diploma in January 2017.

Philadelphia was among the cities he first had considered, including Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Dallas. His father saw a documentary on Philadelphia and recommended the city. Then he met a young woman from Philadelphia and felt that it was right.

He met up with Bruno Pouget, a restaurateur-turned-Realtor, who found him the space on 12th Street south of Walnut.

J’aime will sell La Colombe coffee, viennoiserie (such as croissants), pastries (such as fruit tarts, eclairs, madeleines, merveilleux), quiches and sandwiches for lunch, sweet crepes, and a small bread line (baguettes, mostly).

He hopes to be open in September.