In the small lecture hall in the back of the Barnes & Noble at Storrs Center, students, faculty and locals came to see Craig Carlson talk about his memoir, “Pancakes in Paris.”
After its publication in September of this year, Carlson’s book was just recently named a New York Times Best Seller and he has been on tour to promote his book and connect with new readers.
The memoir is all about Carlson’s lifelong journey that ultimately leads him to open an American diner in Paris, France, where he serves pancakes, omelets, milkshakes, burgers and anything else one would find in an American diner. Currently, Carlson has three locations in France that all serve American breakfast, with the classic neon sign above the door reading “DINER,” a word previously unknown to the common Frenchman. The official name of his restaurant franchise is simply, “Breakfast in America.”
Craig Carlson might not be the first person you would expect to open a diner in Paris. But his book illustrates the timely culmination of events in his life that made him into the success that he is today.
“For the first time I had thought to myself, it was as if the moments in my life were all numbered dots in a large connect the dot picture, and upon completing the last dot, the picture that was revealed was the diner,” said Carlson, recalling the moment he was sitting in a diner after being in France for some time. “It was an epiphany moment in my life, I kept repeating the phrase: the one thing I missed in Paris was American Breakfast.”
A native of Connecticut, Carlson’s connection to France all began at the beginning of his secondary school career when he was forced to choose a foreign language to study. Despite his father’s advice to take Spanish, he was strong armed into a different choice by the ridicule of the popular kids in his class. After taking French courses, Carlson began to fantasize about French conversation and culture, but when he finished the required courses in school, France left his mind.
“Leaning French opened my mind to the world, and I was so in love with the language that I wanted to visit France,” Carlson said.
Everything changed when Carlson attended UConn as a journalism major after founding and being awarded for the newspaper at his high school.
While attending UConn, an advertisement for a study abroad program in France was slipped under his door, causing the flame to be reignited after visiting the interest meeting and observing students speaking French to one another.
“This is when I had another epiphany that took me years to decipher, I saw those two speaking French to each other and how intimate it seemed. Like they were the only people in the room. I wanted a human connection like that,” Carlson said. He would soon travel to France for the first time, where his life would take yet another sudden change in direction.
“What a crazy story. It just goes to show, you never know where life is gonna take you,” Laura Beaumont, a fith-semester Biology major, said.
You can purchase Carlson’s book to find out what unfolds in his unlikely success story at Barnes & Noble in Storrs center. There are even autographed copies while supplies last.
You can keep up with the restaurant via social media as well to see some of the inner workings of this Yankee eatery in a Franco world. (@pancakesinparis)
Dan Wood is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.