In Bed-Stuy, ‘SuperFrench’ Runs the Show

"SuperFrench" at the Georges-André Café in Brooklyn. (Photo via French Morning)

“SuperFrench” at the Georges-André Café in Brooklyn. (Photo via French Morning)

It’s a coffee shop with recycled furniture, brick walls, vintage photos, free Wi-Fi and old tapestries. There are many coffee houses in Brooklyn like Georges-André, in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood, with its slightly ragged armchairs.

But this one is run with an iron fist by “SuperFrench,” aka Karine Petitnicolas. Although not as in shape as she was 10 years ago, her looks still betray her former job as a fitness trainer.

“SuperFrench, this sounds kind of arrogant, I recognize that… It’s a nickname somebody gave at the club, when I was super toned and I took advantage of it to show everything off. In the gym, he wrote SuperFrench on my badge, and people started calling me that. And it stuck afterwards,” says the Nancy-born 42-year-old who arrived in New York 20 years ago as an au pair.

Years of boot camp and kickboxing sessions ensued, as well as private training sessions for stripteasers, Saudi princesses or Upper East Side women. Not to mention countless nights at downtown clubs. “My buddies were DJs, we lived in lofts and we threw great parties. I had a blast. And after a while I got tired of it.”

Karine Petitnicolas moved to Bed-Stuy and, in 2012, got a hold of a place in front of her home, which she transformed into a vintage furniture boutique. A year later, she turned the furniture around and opened Georges-André Café, in June 2013.

It’s a relaxed place where you can eat a quiche or a grilled vegetables soup. SuperFrench works with her neighborhood network of “mom-preneurs” (mom-entrepreneurs), who provide homemade soups, organic juices, or help her with her website. As for the pastries, they come from SoHo’s Ceci-Cela. “When I arrived in New York I worked there as a barista, it was one of my first jobs. The owner is a friend of my mother, he’s also from Lorraine,” she says. The furniture comes from her old boutique, and it’s on sale if anyone makes an offer. “I love changes,” she says.

Also available are board games and toys. “I wanted a place where people would just sit back with a good cup of coffee and play Scrabble with their friends, as if they were at home. It’s not pretentious, it’s convivial. I love this idea that you can be a parent and be cool, drink your coffee in a nicely decorated place while your child plays in the corner.”

Among the kids playing with the mini-kitchen, you can often find André, known as “the dragon child,” her 2-year-old son who she raises alone, and whom the SuperFrench clients know well. André can also be found on the floor mats and big pillows of the SuperFrench studio, which Karine Petitnicolas opened in April 2014. This place situated a block from the café hosts yoga, music and dance courses for kids, as well as activities for moms. The studio also offers puppet shows on weekends. Something to make the neighborhood parents happy.

“Here, it’s packed with young couples, artists, musicians or creative types, and there are plenty of children. It’s the new Park Slope,” observes the indefatigable “SuperFrench,” who is also working on her projects of kids books and a graphic autobiography about her life on the fast lane.

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