Voila! The highly anticipated D.C. location of Ladurée has finally arrived, bringing with it a taste of Paris. Washington is only the fourth city to welcome the upscale pastry shop, and there will be not one, but two boutiques. The first, set to open this week, is in the heart of Georgetown on M Street, and the second, opening shortly after in Union Station, marks the first-ever to-go location worldwide.
Internationally-renowned for their macarons, both Ladurée shops will feature the signature white marble pastry counter. However, Francophile's will also be pleased to discover the array of savory options at each boutique. The 32-seat Georgetown location will be a full-service restaurant, offering breakfast, lunch, brunch, afternoon tea, and early dinner, with coffee, pastries, omelettes, sandwiches, salads, entrees, cocktails, ice cream, and more. In the smaller Union Station to-go space, travelers can grab jarred salads, finger sandwiches, and of course, macarons.
The lauded brand has iconic locations around the world, but it’s still very much a family affair. Power couple Elisabeth Holder Raberin and Pierre-Antoine Raberin, co-presidents of Ladurée in the U.S., are actively involved in each opening. “Every day we change our cap,” Holder Raberin says.
The boutiques are designed to feel like you’re being invited into the couple’s chic Parisian home, complete with antique shop finds and pieces from the family’s collection. Though the French atmosphere is unmistakable, Holder Raberin says she and her team also take inspiration from American culture and incorporate local ingredients from farmers markets into the menus. As she explores D.C. further, diners should expect to see unique dishes catered to the city’s palette.
Before the opening, the pair spent time in D.C. to oversee their new projects and to celebrate the grand opening with a soirée attended by the French Ambassador. We had a chance to sit down with Elisabeth Holder Raberin and Pierre-Antoine Raberin to chat about their luxury brand, the famed macaron, and their expansion to D.C.
People are most excited, obviously, about the macarons. They’ve become so popular now, but what makes Ladurée’s macarons unique?
Elisabeth Holder Raberin: I think the macaron is really a pretty pastry. First, it’s beautiful and super photogenic and we have many colors and I think it’s a simple and a good product. We were the first ones to create it in the 60's and we love to play with the flavors, but we only stay with the fruity, floral or aromatics, so very delicate. And it’s gluten-free, so people love it, of course. That’s always a good thing. We like to call it the supermodel of the food because it goes on every shoot with fashion, with jewels, cosmetics, and art.
What is the origin story of the macaron?
EHR: The macaron at the beginning was only one part, the outside part, like the dry biscuit. Very simple. It was a coconut base at the beginning and Mr. Ladurée had the idea to do it little bit like a sandwich with jam inside or ganache, And it was the beginning of lots of fun because everything is possible. So, we can play with all the fruits, again the floral, everything. We try to always have it light and not too sweet, not too sugary.
Can you share any fun facts about the Ladurée macaron?
EHR: We take the best almonds in the world, and it’s from California. We are very attentive. We care about the quality of the raw material and it’s always the best one we try to find.
We heard that Ladurée was coming to D.C. about two years ago. What’s been happening between now and then to make this a reality?
EHR: It’s a long process just to find a good location and actually, Georgetown, it’s an old building, so we need to figure out what we can do, what we cannot do. And after the time of the construction, we take time to have nice décor. So everything takes time, but we are so happy to be here now and to open the door to the public. We can’t wait.
What made you decide that D.C. was the next market for US expansion?
EHR: We are in New York already, and we wanted to develop the East Coast, and Georgetown is little bit a European city. It’s very international. My husband, who’s in charge of the development, had the opportunity, found the location, and I think when you find a location like this, you cannot say no. Just perfect for us.
Pierre-Antoine Raberin: We think that D.C. is really booming. It’s amazing. For me, there’s two cities that really boom today in the U.S., and sorry for the other cities, but Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Also, this is a market where people walk on the streets, and it’s very important for us, to have people walk, look at the decoration, look at the product and say, “wow, it’s cute, it’s nice, let’s get one.”
EHR: The idea is really to welcome you like at home. You enter in a Parisian house. We really want you to have this feeling and to have a nice moment with your friends or your family, or even business breakfast, and to spend time in Paris.
What drew you to the Union Station location?
EHR: Union Station is the first time we are in a station, actually. And the station is so beautiful, we are super proud to be part of it, and it’s the opportunity for us to have a new concept. We will have the to-go range for the first time, for savory—so, salad and sandwich to go—and of course, the macarons, ice cream, and pastries. And a nice area of sitting so you can enjoy directly here or grab your bag and jump in the train. It’s a new experience for us.
Most people know you for your world-famous macaron. Have you found that people are still getting acquainted with the rest of your offerings?
EHR: I hope that people will enjoy the full experience. You can really enjoy the range of pastries. The chef has trained for years in Ladurée in Paris and Europe, and now here in Georgetown. And we have the savory, too. The thing is we are a tea room in Paris, so in Paris you can come for lunch or breakfast or tea time. And here we have the full experience with early dinner, too. And I think people should know that our savory is as good as our macarons and pastries, really.
Will there be anything unique to the Georgetown location that you can’t find anywhere else in the world?
EHR: For the opening, we wanted to celebrate the Cherry Blossom Festival, so we have the [limited edition cherry blossom gift] box, we have the macaron, cherry blossom macaron. We have the cherry blossom religieuse. It’s a very French pastry. And we have the cocktail with the cherry blossom macaron, and it’s only for D.C.
How do you plan to immerse yourself in the community here? Are you planning any events or outreach?
EHR: For us, it’s very important to be part of the community. We really are totally part of it in New York and Los Angeles now, and in Washington, it’s the same. We want to be part of what happens in the neighborhood, to support the charity. We need to take the time to understand and know a little bit better the market for sure, because it’s new for us, but it’s really something very important for us.
Ladurée in Georgetown (3060 M Street, NW) will be open from 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday-Sunday. Opening date to be announced.
Ladurée in Union Station will be open from 6 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Opening date to be announced.