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Former Restaurant and Gas Station Owner Asif Shah Becomes Franchisee With Paris Baguette

The businessman is partnering with his young daughter to introduce Paris Baguette to his Pittsburgh neighborhood with plans to open five new locations in the coming years.

Asif Shah, a long-time entrepreneur who has owned both gas stations and restaurants for nearly 20 years, is bringing Paris Baguette, the global bakery café franchise, to Pittsburgh with a five-unit agreement. The first café is projected to open at 8013 McKnight Road in May with a second at 5514 Walnut Street following later this year.

Partnering with his daughter, Shah says he looks forward to bringing the Paris Baguette experience to a neighborhood that has nothing like it. Compared to the drive-thru and pick-up models that run rampant today, Paris Baguette provides “a more beautiful experience,” he said.

1851 Franchise spoke with Shah to learn more about his journey to franchising and plans for the future.


1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?

Shah: I’ve been in business since 2006. It was a retail business — mostly gas stations and convenience stores. I still have some gas stations and convenience stores being run by managers, but when my daughter graduated, she said she was looking to get involved in business. I asked her what kind, and she said some kind of café-style.

I researched online and got connected with Paris Baguette. We liked the idea, and we visited a few cafès in New York. We made the final decision to bring Paris Baguette to Pittsburgh because we live here, and there is no Paris Baguette here right now.

1851: What was your perception of franchising prior to becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?

Shah: I am still building my locations, so I will have more experience when we open, but I’m excited. Paris Baguette is very helpful for new people who want a unique or different business idea. They work well with you, support you a lot and are very responsive.

1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?

Shah: There was one local café that we visited, and we liked the concept, but it was private. There are no good bakeries in the area — not any with the variety that Paris Baguette has. We liked the baked goods, layout and business model, so we went for it.

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth? 

Shah: We want to get all five locations opened. I already have friends talking about partnerships in the business and other people who want to get involved. After we open four or five locations in Pittsburgh, if we can get more people involved, we might consider bringing Paris Baguette to another new area.

1851: What is the one thing about your story you want us to know?

Shah: In Pittsburgh, we have Starbucks and Panera. They are okay, but it’s totally different at Paris Baguette. Paris Baguette wants to make sure guests come in and take a look at what we have. We want the guest to walk into the café and stay a while. I really like that model.

Walking in, looking around and picking your own pastries from a buffet-style display, then being able to sit down and relax to enjoy your food… It’s a more beautiful experience.

1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner?

Shah: If somebody wants a full-service restaurant, that’s a lot of work and responsibility. The Paris Baguette style is easier to manage. You don’t have to have too many people on the floor taking orders or waitressing. 

If you want to work with just family or friends, using the franchise model, and especially one with slightly easier operations, like Paris Baguette, makes that possible.


Paris Baguette is a bakery café franchise with more than 4,000 units across the globe. The global brand first franchised in the U.S. in 2015 and has since established over 150 locations in markets across the country, making it one of the premier franchise opportunities in its category. Paris Baguette’s primary mission, executed every day by its expert staff of bakers, cakers and baristas, is to share moments of joy with guests and help guests share moments of joy with their friends and family by providing world-class cakes, pastries, coffees, breads and other French-inspired bakery café fare. To find out more information on costs to buy this franchise, please visit

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.