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“Chiens’ Depend On Me, Now”

I hadn’t heard from Hat Sternstein in a long time. That’s because she’s been embroiled in a…let’s call it a “quibble”…with the Préfecture and the right to continue running her business (a life-long dream) and stay in France. It’s the first time in 27 years that an American has faced a similar “predicament.”

We must be careful in what we say here as any “not so favorable” publicity could hurt her chances of acquiring the well-deserved renewal of her “Carte de Commerçant Etranger.” We make no complaints…at least, not yet. Not until next month when she has the real thing in her hot little hand, or should I say, “paw?”

You may remember Hat (actually “Harriet”) as the American who came to France five years ago (with Sophie-Marie, her best four-legged friend) after attending our very first Living and Investing in France Conference in May of 2002. She had a dream then to open of all things — a Gourmet Pet Bakery!

We all cracked up when she may the pronouncement, but had us eating our own words, or should I say “biscuits” (?) when she arrived a couple years later to actually do it! She laughingly claims it’s ALL my fault, since presiding over the conference and giving her the confidence that it was all “doable.”

Getting the proper papers and opening the shop, in the absolutely above-board legal way, became virtually an act of God. With tremendous perseverance and the help of professional advisors, friends and investors, she managed it. Mon Bon Chien was born on June 1st, 2005, at a small boutique location at number 12, rue Mademoiselle in the residential 15th arrondissement.

Since then, the boutique has catered to thousands of patrons, of both the two-legged and four-legged varieties, and gotten more press than Carla Bruni. People stop by who don’t have dogs, but just want to say hello or buy biscuits for their friends’ pets. She also stocks all sorts of pet specialty products from around the world to make perfect gifts for your favorite pet.

Hat Sternstein is a talented pastry chef, a bona fide lover of dogs and pets and an optimist. She is also the most stubborn woman I can think of…she
simply isn’t going to give up and let the “other guys” win. She says she can’t, “Dogs depend on me, now.”

After five years of ‘pounding the dough’ and about two thousand grand of hard-earned investment capital, she’s hoping she’ll be smiling all the way to the Prfecture this coming month to accept another full year of the right to make biscuits that “fit a dogs dietary needs.” (“There is no additional sugar or salt added to the biscuits and because there are no preservatives they are baked slowly to achieve the right degree of crunch.”)

Hat’s story will eventually make a great novel, but for now our lips are sealed until she’s got that card safely tucked away until next year. Her new Web site tells the story of the bakery itself, so there is no need for a rehash here of how every dog or cat in France (or anywhere for that matter), should be treated to one of her special gourmet goodies…but I can tell you this: we as Americans who support the idea of entrepreneurship, need to commend Hat Sternstein for her ‘stick-to-it-tiveness’ to overcome all odds and keep her dream alive.

I urge all of you to visit the boutique, buy a few things and tell your friends. While you’re at it, any contribution you might want to make toward her “Keep Mon Bon Chien Alive” fund (I just made that up — she did not ask me to do this) to help pay her mountain of legal bills, will likely be greatly appreciated and rewarded in…gourmet doggy biscuits?

Here’s how you find Harriet Sternstein, Sophie-Marie (the “grande diva”) and her newest best friend, Diablo (the wonder dog) at Mon Bon Chien!

Mon Bon Chien
The Doggie Bakery
12, rue Mademoiselle
75015, Paris, France
Métro: Commerce/Felix Faure (line 8)
Open Tuesday through Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Phone/Fax +33 (0) 1 48 28 40 12
mon-bon-chien-paris.com
[email protected]

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. The Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group is open all Summer long, so join us anytime and be sure to mark your calendars for the “Parler Parlor Rentree Party Picnic!” on Saturday, September 20, 2008.

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