Sweet Savoir-Vivre at Marché Mon Pitou
This café serves up a sweet taste of Paris.
Inspired by the French “savoir-vivre,” this cute café celebrates everyday indulgences—and the extra special ones, too (like imported chocolate straight from Rue de Rivoli). It’s no surprise that it’s become a favourite not just among its fine Fairview neighbours, but among brunch seekers city-wide.
Lucky for us, we had found time for a tasty treat and caught up with founders Jesse and Triet to find out what’s behind the name (or rather, who is that pooch in the window?) and how it all came together.
Did you both always want to start a café?
Jesse: “To be honest, I never really thought about owning or operating a restaurant, but I always loved food and entertaining. I was a flight attendant for a few years, but I knew I didn’t want to fly as my career. I also didn’t know what I wanted to do ‘when I grew up.’
“One day, I flew with a fabulous flight attendant who sold fruit crumbles at the farmers market on her days off. Being brand-new to aviation, I knew I needed some sort of ‘side hustle’ and Ding! a little light bulb went off. Triet and I applied to the Vancouver Farmers Market and were accepted as weekend vendors that summer. Nothing brought me more joy than the line-ups in front of our tent… I used to think ‘Wow, people actually like our stuff!’ Fast forward to four years later, here we are running a bistro, bakery, and specialty food store.”
Triet: “I was born and raised in Vancouver, and literally grew up in a grocery store. My parents owned one in East Vancouver for 20 years. To fulfill my parents’ dreams, I completed a university degree in Health Sciences, but they passively encouraged me to be an entrepreneur because they had already laid the foundation for me.”
Your café brings a little piece of Paris to our city. What are some of your specialties?
Triet: “There’s a story to everything in the space, from the design to the dishes we serve, down to the scent. For brunch, people definitely associate us with our silky, creamy French-style scrambled eggs. For baked goods, you can’t go wrong with our Viennoise pastries or carrot cake.”
Jesse: “People always ask me what’s my favourite thing on the menu, and my answer is always the same: ‘I write the menu, and these are all my favourites [laughs], but what’s standing out to you?’ They usually answer this or that, and to please them I’ll always agree with their first choice. And voila! I mean, soft scrambled eggs with burrata, smoked salmon over sourdough, or custard-soaked brioche French toast… How bad can that be?!”
*And* you have a grocery pantry. Name a few of your go-to goods.
Jesse: “I can assure you every product on our retail shelving is on a shelf in our pantry at home. If it’s a guest’s first-time shopping in the store and they ask for suggestions, I’ll always recommend the basics first. Good salt, good olive oil, good jam, and, of course, good chocolate spread… If I really have to narrow it down, I’m a huge fan of our Alziari olive oil and Les Terres Blanches fleur de sel.”
Triet: “What we carry in the store is not just experimental, but memorable. When I’m in Paris, I always have hot chocolate at Angelina’s on Rue de Rivoli, and we were able to import their bottled version. Every time I walk by it or talk to a customer about it, I get a nostalgic feeling, like I’m sitting in Angelina’s opulent cafe enjoying a thick Parisian-style hot chocolate.”
Tell us the meaning behind Mon Pitou.
Triet: “Mon Pitou’s direct translation is ‘my pooch,’ but it’s also a term of endearment meaning my love’ or ‘my munchkin.’ It was Jesse’s nickname growing up—so it’s a meaningful name, and it means we can use our dog Ru as the mascot.”
Jesse: “When we moved into our home five years ago, I told Triet the first thing that would be moving into the house before any furniture or clothing would be an English bulldog, and I really wasn’t kidding. Shortly after moving in, our little Ru came home. Little did we know this sweet puppy would turn into an absolute monster–but hey, he’s got the face of a movie star, which is why we had to use him as the face of our brand!”
What do you love most about running Marché Mon Pitou?
Triet: “The team. Success starts with people, and we are blessed to work alongside a motivated and resilient team–especially our opening team that joined a start-up in the middle of winter during a pandemic… We experience operational challenges, but our team always has a ‘Let’s do it’ mentality. They inspire me to be better and do better because I owe it to them as their employer and friend.”
Jesse: “Once again, I agree with Triet (which doesn’t happen often!). We’re truly excited to go into work every day to be with our team. We really couldn’t have asked for a better group of people. The other thing I love about running Mon Pitou is getting to work alongside my very hard-working and incredibly talented spouse, Triet. Not everyone is fortunate enough to spend all day working with the one they love (I mean, do we need a break every now and then? For sure. But I find myself incredibly lucky).”