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French patisserie to open café on Charles

Get ready for a soupçon of Paris on Charles Street.

Café Poupon plans to open next month in a former coffee shop in the Grand Historic Venue in the 200 block of North Charles Street.

Café owner Joseph Poupon, whose Patisserie Poupon has operated a bakery and shop at 820 E. Baltimore Street for 27 years, said the final touches are being put on the new café, which already features a marble-and-oak counter, vaulted ceilings, large picture windows and old-fashioned tile floors.

“I love the building, the space. It is very French and fits perfectly with what we want to do — recreate an atmosphere of an old French bakery,” Poupon said. “It is very Parisian.”

The menu will include the bakery’s delicious pastries, such as croissants and baguettes, as well as quiches, salads, ice cream and the upscale Illy brand of coffee. Patrons will be able to sit indoors and outdoors, he said this week.

Poupon, who moved to Baltimore from Brittany in western France nearly three decades ago, said he decided to locate a second Baltimore shop in center city (there’s one in D.C. as well) because “the neighborhood is improving a lot, with a lot of people moving in.”

The area is currently spawning apartment units as many commercial buildings are being converted to residential. “It’s a good place to be,” Poupon said.

Look for celebrities to stop by once the doors open. HBO’s “VEEP” and the Netflix drama “House of Cards” film in the Grand Historic Venue — formerly the Tremont Grand and once a Grand Lodge of Maryland, saved from the wrecking ball in 1996 when city officials wanted to tear it down and build a parking garage.

This week, top city and elected officials applauded the news that the Baltimore office of the federal Multifamily Housing Programs would remain open as a satellite of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Baltimore office.

The multifamily program office had been slated to close as part of a national reorganization. One proposal would have consolidated the local office into one of five regional offices, covering Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C.

“Baltimore’s families depend on HUD’s multifamily office to provide the critical services that keep families together and in safe homes,” Rep. John P. Sarbanes said in a statement. “And the people working at the multifamily office don’t just help people in our city — their work stretches throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, reaching thousands of Americans who count on them. As Congress negotiates our federal budget, we must stand up for programs that serve a compelling human need, because it is usually these programs that create the greatest economic and social returns on our initial investments.”

The decision to keep the local office open was made after several meetings with HUD officials.

Are you bored with the color of your front door?

Residential color expert Kate Smith, whose Newport, R.I.-based Sensational Color consultancy is nationally known, says paint it one of several trendy new colors: “raucous orange, quixotic plum or relic bronze.”

“There are two trends I see influencing front door colors for 2014,” Smith wrote recently. “First there’s the trend of people painting their doors with exuberant hues as a way of telling the world they’re tired of spinning their wheels in place. These people are ready to move forward, embrace challenges and show their energy through vibrant colors like capri blue and dynamo raspberry. The other trend is that some people are seeking colors that are vibrant yet at the same time connect us to a sense of community and culture. These simpler colors, like classic French gray and polished mahogany, give us comfort, warmth and reliability, which are found in these rich paint colors.”

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