HomeBlocksFront-GridCorrea’s American Dream Has a French Twist

Correa’s American Dream Has a French Twist

Lou Correa, chef and founder of Lou the French on the Block in Burbank, believes that your local baker should have your back.
“In France, every town has a community baker,” Correa told the Leader. “Everyone knows their baker and knows if you need something or are short on money, your baker got you. I’m close like that with the community.”
The bakery usually has a line out the door and down the street, and has developed a devoted clientele of croissant-loving foodies who frequent the establishment. Best known for his top-notch buttery croissants, Correa also sells tarts, quiche, eclairs and gourmet coffee.
“I have tried many croissants in Los Angeles, and these are hands down the best I have ever had. Takes me right down memory lane to a café in Paris,” said Rose Mailutha, a weekly Lou the French on the Block customer.
Correa grew up in a town just outside of Versailles, France, and worked as a professional basketball player for Brest Basketball Club until 2008. But within the span of just a few years, Correa found himself in Burbank running a successful bakery in the Media District.
“Well, it’s kind of a crazy story,” Correa said.
He trained for years as a small forward, and was just settling into his career on the court when he sustained repeated injuries. “I was getting hurt every year. It got to the point where I had to get two surgeries on my hip. After that, I just wasn’t the same player,” he said.
One season, Correa found himself in rehab nursing another injury. He was scrolling through the news when an ad popped up: “Do you want to live the American dream? Play the green card lottery.”
“So I played it and won. When I got the news, I was injured again and I thought, well, this is probably a sign to do something different. When you think about coming to America as a French person, you think about opening a bakery or opening a craft shop,” Correa said.
“So I just started to bake on my own at home and, I don’t know why, it turned out to be a passion,” he said.
At the time, Correa had no real skill in baking. He practiced at home, learning from YouTube tutorials and gaining the knowledge to perfect his own recipes. Not long after, he made the move to Los Angeles.
His first job was at the International School of Burbank, where he taught basketball. The school has a large French community, and Correa fit right in. Shortly after, he started baking and catering for parties before moving on to the Studio City Farmers Market.
“I thought that the farmers market was really, really cool. And then at one point, I hit a ceiling where like, it was just common sense to get my own brick and mortar,” Correa said.
That’s when Lou the French on the Block was born. Correa set up shop in the Media District, near Warner Brother’s Studios in 2016.
“In designing the concept for the bakery, I took inspiration from where I’m from,” Correa said. “I wanted to feel close to the community, so that everyone will feel comfortable telling me, oh, I forgot my wallet, I’ll get you next time. You know, it’s a trust thing that you have with customers.”
Then, in 2020, the pandemic hit. Businesses closed, some for good. Correa adjusted hours to three days per week for the safety of staff members.
“COVID happened and people were dying. It was scary. At that point, I’m not even thinking about the business, I’m thinking ‘are we safe?’” he said.
Instead of shutting down, the business exploded with people wanting to support the bakery, Correa said. Since the decision to transition to three days per week, the lines down the block never stopped.
Then, the Black Lives Matter movement began to pick up steam in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
“That whole year exposed us to a lot of love from L.A.,” said Correa. “In France, I don’t see many Black bakers. Society is telling you that you need to go to school and get a diploma. Here I am, self-taught — I learned the recipes and perfected them myself. It feels amazing to be supported by the community.”
Since then, Lou the French on the Block has been featured on “The Ellen Show,” endorsed by actor Terry Crews and praised by the L.A. Times and other local publications.
“But I don’t just want to be recognized among the Black businesses alone, I want to be great among all of the businesses. I want to be recognized as a good baker. For me, my American dream is to be able to do anything I set out to do,” Correa said.
“I try to treat people the way I want to be treated. They have given me 10 times more.”
Lou the French on the Block is located at 4007 W. Riverside Dr. in Burbank. The bakery is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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