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Jason Kim

Episode 138

Be the Bakery in your Community

Jason Kim has cultivated relationships with owners, buyers, and developers in the SO CAL market place as well as with tenants and is able to match these groups and their needs for mutual benefit. He suggests, “I like to let my actions and strategic advice speak for themselves and to focus on execution and deploying my team to generate solutions and innovations that add value to the client.” Prior to taking the helm at FCE Jason was a Director at Coldwell Banker Wilshire Properties. Prior to joining CB Wilshire, Jason was a financial analyst at CB Richard Ellis Capital Markets and was responsible for analyzing and helping to close over 3⁄4 of a billion dollars throughout SO CAL. Jason received his undergraduate degree in Finance, Real Estate, and Law.

Jason is one of the top retail and real estate finance professionals in Los Angeles. His ability to service commercial real estate clients has been proven through large and small transactions. His specialty is being able to problem solve particularly complex and challenging situations and see the deal through to a successful conclusion.

Jason has excelled in being able to assemble and field a team of agents and real estate professionals to execute on behalf of his clients and to leverage this team approach to adding value from the beginning to the end of the process. His able problem solving skills and focus on “execution whatever the circumstances,” has allowed him to husband development deals that range from shopping centers to strip malls to culturally significant neighborhood centers. This focus on execution has made him a lead consultant on important, complex deals that have multiple transaction points and that also require a sophisticated understanding of real estate financing.

Jason has cultivated a reputation for being both determined and understated and this approach fits very well for his clientele as he is able to communicate strategy and solutions to his clients in a way that is collaborative and innovative, as well as personally appealing. Over the past 15 years his experience has made Jason aware of the distinctive opportunities and challenges that face clients in urban Southern California markets for commercial rehab and development projects. In many cases it is necessary to bring together multiple properties for redevelopment to create an added value deal that is attractive to clients and tenants.

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Jason Kim Quotes

  • “Reaching out and working with your community is something that I hope all small businesses and other businesses are able to do. The people that work with you from your neighborhood and their kids go to the same school; it’s all intertwined.”
  • “Imagine if we turned the clock back and there was a donut shop or bakery. You bake a little extra and give it to the neighbors, the kids, the students, the teachers, and the people in the community, adding value and increasing human capital for your neighborhood. And so you give back. This is your town. This is your neighborhood. There is the mindset where you take care of one another.”
  • “One of the main decisions I made that move was because I saw a lot of people trying to do their own business later in their lives, and I wanted to take a risk when I was young.”

Jason Kim has deep roots in the San Gabriel community. He grew up in Los Angeles and the West Hollywood area and moved to San Gabriel eight years ago to manage retail real estate. He became invested in the community and wanted to give back, so he partnered to open a Paris Baguette franchise there.

Paris Baguette is a neighborhood bakery, and Jason believes in supporting the surrounding community. He has engaged with local schools, police, nonprofits, and others to provide donations, host events, and build relationships. 

Jason has also focused on developing the right mix of tenants in his retail spaces. He looks for businesses that can work cooperatively and enhance the community.

Jason runs his business responsibly and focuses on improving the neighborhood. He embraces a “small town” mindset of supporting and giving back. This investment in the community has been integral to Paris Baguette’s success.

What is your connection to the San Gabriel Valley?

I came here to manage retail real estate about eight years ago. Then, I had the opportunity to work with a lot of investors and friends here and got one of my close friends to invest in Paris Baguette. I was able to move here and started managing and working the store more intensely.


Did you create Paris Baguette, or is it a franchise?

It’s a franchise. They have over 150 stores and are trying to get to about 200 stores in the United States. They have a lot of stores on the West Coast, and they’re expanding. This location is franchisee-owned and operated.


You’re in San Gabriel on Las Tunas correct?

Yeah. Las Tunas and Mission Mission Drive. 


Can you tell us the journey your parents took to get here?

Yeah. I think the story is very similar to a lot of people here in San Gabriel and in Los Angeles, where an immigrant population came here and started their own business or something like that. 

I remember seeing my grandpa run a dry cleaner when I was young. He would run the business for the family, keep the door close to work, you know, only worry about what’s within the four corners of the business, and take care of his family. My grandparents and parents came here to try to make a better life, make money, and take care of their family. 

They had a perspective of looking into the store instead of outside to the community.


You run your business differently.

Yeah. I think it’s about being a responsible neighbor and being a part of the community. We have to go back to the grassroots of being a neighborhood small-town business.

Imagine if we turned the clock back and there was a donut shop or bakery. You bake a little extra and give it to the neighbors, the kids, the students, the teachers, and the people in the community, adding value and increasing human capital for your neighborhood. And so you give back. This is your town. This is your neighborhood. There is the mindset where you take care of one another.


Do you have any experiences like that from your childhood?

I didn’t get to go out to eat much. We ate a lot at home, but when we did go out, it was a treat, and those memories were great. My favorite experience was going to In N Out. I know that’s not like a neighborhood thing, but I grew up eating hamburgers, and they have a positive connotation just because they were given to me as a reward. 


Where did you grow up?

I grew up in West Hollywood and the Los Angeles area before I came to San Gabriel. 


When you finished school, did you know you wanted to go into real estate?

I went to school for real estate and real estate finance, and then got into the capital markets and worked on commercial real estate financing. I worked at a large public company as an analyst. Then, I took the chance to start my own business and start consulting and managing. So, I had an opportunity to do that with a few people and then consolidated into their company.


That must have been very exciting for you.

Yeah. One of the main decisions I made was because I saw a lot of people trying to do their own business later in their lives, and I wanted to take a risk when I was young. So that if I was to make a mistake or it didn’t really work out, I still have the chance to recover.


What was the first thing you did on your own?

I did two things. I picked up two other partners, and we started a real estate brokerage and management company and started running that together. That was early. And we were doing okay, and then a friend of mine who’s an attorney opened a yogurt shop, like a frozen yogurt shop in San Gabriel, like, on the side. But I don’t think he had this great idea about serving the community. He was more focused on turning a profit.  

I wanted to take a shot at having passive income, but he didn’t have the time to be there and manage it. He had other people working on it and couldn’t get out of this lease.

So we were talking, and I said, ‘Let me and my buddies take it over, and we’ll do a pizza restaurant.  

So, I tried that for two or three years on the weekends with my buddies. I wasn’t experienced and had this kind of community thing. I didn’t realize all this then, and I did it for three years before I walked away from it, and I continue to do my real estate work. 

I learned a lot from that. Then, I had this opportunity with Paris Begade and had a different approach.


Where do you think you got the trait to bounce back and try again?

One of the ways that people could relate to this is the courage to pick back up and do it again.

If you had a relationship and you broke up, at first, you might often deal with frustrations, disappointments, and anger, but then you really learn a lot about yourself. Every time, you know, something happens like that, you learn a lot about yourself, and you improve yourself.  

Then, you start to understand how you can be better the next time another opportunity comes. And I think that’s the core of picking yourself up. 


Your shop, Paris Baguette, is the type of shop where you see a lot of happy people right?

Yeah. It’s like a treat, you know, the extra calories you can put on that day, or you’re there to indulge in something like a cake or a pastry, something sweet, something savory, and people are usually very happy. 

It’s a happy experience for kids. They come in. They want to choose a cookie, and they’re running around looking at different colors and displays, pointing and saying, ‘Hey. I want this.’ So, it’s a happy place and a great place to be a part of the community and connect with people to deliver more happiness.


Do your customers stay for a long time?

When this Paris Baguette was designed in San Gabriel, the investor thought it’d be great to put this community room where we sit. 

And that was to create the function of the community, to be able to have a space where people can have their business meetings, their coffee, and pastries and talk over work, or they can come in celebrate a small birthday, hang out, right, and be able to have a cake with their friend and meet on occasion on a Sunday. 

The community really uses that room. There’s been volunteer meetings, coffee with a cop, and things like that.  


You also curate a retail space in San Gabriel, where you are in charge of placing the tenants.

Yes. Curating tenants in a shopping center requires the right mixture of tenants and businesses that can work well together. I’ve been working and managing shopping centers in the Asian American communities in Koreatown, Little Tokyo, downtown, and San Gabriel, primarily San Gabriel now. I’ve been able to meet a lot of tenants and small business owners and work in the shopping center. 

San Gabriel is a really strong food market. It’s a strong community that is supportive, and businesses can come here and have a great opportunity when it comes to providing food. I think more and more businesses and brands will come into San Gabriel Valley. 

There is this super cool tenant from Japan. He worked at a Michelin Star restaurant in Japan, then he came back to stateside and started making katsu sandwiches, and he had this small place in Chinatown downtown with no sign, no seating, and no parking in front of his unit. 

You can’t even see his store. I drove by many times and couldn’t even find it when I was looking for it. There were all these people waiting in line for his food, and somebody pointed to me to approach him to see if they would be interested in, you know, looking at real estate spaces or something like that. 

He noticed that all his orders were from the 626 area code and wanted to open up a second location in San Gabriel. We worked closely with the property owner and brought them here into the city. 

Since then, he’s been successful, done multiple IP deals with Westfield Mall, and will now open multiple locations nationwide.

Can you tell us about your philosophy of giving back to the community?

Yeah. A bakery Like Paris Baguette isn’t a location where customers drive half an hour from downtown. It’s not a destination location. If you want your coffee, you won’t drive an hour to get it or a piece of pastry. As a small business, you’re going to survive in the 10 to 15-minute driving radius of your store. You’re going to be successful, and you’re going to be okay if the community within the 10:15 minute drive radius supports you.

It’s not as simple as opening the door and saying, okay, we got good pastries, come support us. You have to go out and support them back. These are the people that are going to come to you every day. This is the demographic and the population that will help you be successful and run your business to survive. And you have to give back and work within the immediate radius of your store. It’s been the philosophy of the investor and me to serve the community and to have this place or something to enhance and better the community and earn their business.

One of the first areas we’ve been thinking about when reaching out to the community is to go to the schools and the academic system because the academic system is very important for the community and neighborhood. 

I believe in the advancement through the academic system and higher human capital for the city. We met with the San Gabriel Educational Fund, which helps the schools. We did a swag bag to give back to the teachers and over 300 staff members with gift cards and pastries. 

We did that, and then we met with the San Gabriel police department and got introduced to working with the community, supporting them, and working with them. We started the coffee with the cop at the store.

Then, from there, we met La Casa, a nonprofit organization in San Gabriel that teaches kids pre-K, and we were able to help them with their annual fundraising dinner with some sliced cakes and desserts. Then, one of the staff who works for us serves pastries to happy customers, and her kids go to La Casa. So it’s full circle.


Do you share this philosophy with your tenants?

Some tenants are different generations and don’t see it that way. They’ve been around for a long time, but they’re okay. I’ve also learned a lot from working with tenants on the real estate side. I think a lot of business owners do reach out to the community and want to do things with the community as well. 


Thank you for sharing your story with us. Can you tell our listeners how to get in touch with you?

The best way to get a hold of me is to email me at 


What is the location of Paris Baguette?

Paris Baguette is at 708 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776.

Picture of Jason Kim

Jason Kim

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