Amelie’s French Bakery & Cafe Is The Best Best Bakery In North Carolina

Amelie's French Bakery & Cafe
Photo:

Joshua Vasko

Charlotte's beloved fun house of a bakery has a layered history. In 2006, the city’s NoDa district welcomed Marguerite’s, a French bakery that aimed to be a warm gathering spot where people could sit at the counter and watch puff pastry being laminated or meet their friends for espressos and baked goods over board games. Sadly, Marguerite’s closed shortly after, but the idea was a great fit for the tightknit, artsy neighborhood.

In 2008, partners Greg Hardee, Bill Lamb, and Lynn St. Laurent (who had worked at Marguerite’s) bought the space and opened it as Amélie’s French Bakery & Café. They kept the emphasis on community and European-style baking but added a vintage-chic vibe, filling the place with repurposed art, birdcage lamps, and whimsical chandeliers. It was picture-perfect before Instagram even existed, and Amélie’s quickly became a destination.

Savory options like soups and baguette sandwiches were added to the menu to bring in a lunch crowd. Then things really got crazy: The bakery extended its hours in a city that didn’t know it needed a late-night stop for a croissant and café au lait. Throw in free Wi-Fi, and suddenly freelancers and entrepreneurs had something that hadn’t existed before in Charlotte—a coworking space with abundant social networking (and food!) that was practically never closed. By 2010, news had spread of the unique community that grew up around Amélie’s. Outsiders marveled at the group of regulars who based their work schedules on when the twice-baked almond croissants came out of the oven.

There have been bumps along the way: Management changes; the now-closed Atlanta outpost; and the biggest challenge of all, the pandemic. But through it all, Amélie’s retained its loyal fans and kept churning out caloric delights, like their famous Salted Caramel Brownie—a layer of gooey caramel draped over a chewy chocolate base—plus seasonal tarts, cakes, and blondies. The macaron selection has reached rainbow proportions, and those croissants can still invade your dreams.

There are four locations now, including three in Charlotte and one in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The original bakery on North Davidson Street moved to a bigger space in 2022, but it sports the same bluestriped walls, flea market art, and an alcove made to look like the massive base of the Eiffel Tower.

When it comes to mixing business and baking, Amélie’s real secret ingredient has always been based on a single thing: Vive la différence.

ameliesfrenchbakery.com, 704-376-1781, 136 E 36th St., Charlotte, NC 28205

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