Creative Cream Puffs are Coming to Pasadena

Franchisee Jack Wan is bringing Beard Papa's to the City of Roses
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Creative cream puffs are coming to the City of Roses and locals are sure to appreciate some of the unique flavors.

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Beard Papa’s is coming to 16 S Fair Oaks Ave, in Pasadena, this summer.

The 931-square-foot space is the former home of Paradis Ice Cream.

Franchisee Jack Wan, co-owner of the upcoming Pasadena shop also owns the West Los Angeles location at 2130 Sawtelle Blvd. #110.

Wan hopes to open by early summer. He’s done with the design work and is now waiting on the architectural and engineering drawings before submitting the final permits around mid-March. He’s also looking for a third location probably next year in the greater LA area.

The opportunity came last year where he was able to learn about the operation and business side of Beard Papa’s. He liked what he heard so he signed up for more than one location.

He and his fellow co-owners took over the West LA Beard Papa’s last April. It was a corporate store that has been in operation more than a decade, Wan said.

That was right when COVID-19 hit, he said, so things slowed down at first. As people got more comfortable to shop in safe way business picked back up. After a few months they started looking for an ideal second location.

“After we took over the LA location, we felt a lot of support from the local community and we’re very grateful for that,” Wan said.

Although this is his first Beard Papa’s franchise, Wan has been a longtime happy customer. The first time he had one of the brand’s iconic cream puffs was as a kid growing up in Hong Kong.

Beard Papa’s started in 1999 as a small bakery in the town of Osaka, Japan.

“People in the town couldn’t resist the aroma from the bakery, or the kind face of the owner, Yuji Hirota,” the company’s website reads. “His fluffy white beard was so renowned that he became known as ‘Beard Papa’ to all of his regular customers.”

The bakery grew and expanded, popping up all over Japan and further. Now there are more than 400 Beard Papa’s worldwide. Over the last few years there has been a push to open more US stores, said Tucker Kaufman, marketing and content creation for Beard Papa’s. The goal is to have a total of 100 US locations over the next two years, he added.

Wan moved to the states in 2004 and then to LA in 2010, where he came across the brand again. Remembering the fresh taste of the cream puffs from his childhood, he visited several of the LA locations over the years. He also would stop by for a bite when visiting his family in Hong Kong.

The variety on the menu is slightly different in Japan, Wan noted. The US market is more adventurous with their toppings, he said.

The golden, crispy creampuffs are Hirota’s original recipe. They are made fresh daily and come in three core flavors (original/vanilla, chocolate, and green tea) and a variety of specialty flavors (depending on the location, they can include strawberry, Reese’s, Oreo, honey butter, s’mores, coffee, or others).

Other baked goodies offered: A chocolate fondant, cheesecake, and the Beard Papa’s twist on crème brulee.

They also offer monthly specialty flavors. For February, it was rose infused with a strawberry shortcake shell. A perfect fit for the town known as the City of Roses (although the flavor ends at the end of the month, it will likely be offered again).

Although you can’t beat the original, which is still the most popular choice and Wan’s personal favorite.

Before becoming a franchise owner, Wan was in finance for over a decade. He was always interested in the food industry, working at coffee shops or restaurants during college.

“I’m very happy with the change (from finance),” he said. “I’ve always been interested in food, it’s my passion.”

When he started thinking about buying a franchise, he saw the Beard Papa’s name and thought it would be a good fit.

Since the West LA location was established, he hit the ground running. The Pasadena shop is a new business for the area, so he is learning about planning and permitting.

Luckily, the Beard Papa’s brand has given him a hand throughout the process, he said.

“Corporate has been very helpful,” Wan said. “They’ve been very hands-on… to help me understand what has to be done.”

Wan lived around and worked near Pasadena for about a decade, so he knows the dining scene in the area pretty well. The location has a diverse combination of retail and restaurants, and pretty busy all week long, he said.

“We feel confident it will be a very successful concept in Pasadena as well,” he said. “I’m very excited.”

Sara Hall

Sara has nearly 14 years of experience as a news reporter and editor at several daily and weekly newspapers, including The Record Searchlight in Redding, Calif., The Daily Advocate in Greenville, Ohio, and most recently at the Newport Beach Independent in Newport Beach, Calif. Her work has included photography, writing, design and layout. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, backpacking, traveling and spending time with her husband and pets
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