By Shelbie Ladue
Travel & Leisure magazine sums up the elegant French restaurant as “a French country paradise, with just the right amount of refinement, serves up the standards, and offers a wine list as deep as Lake Champlain.” Owners Christine and Chef Patrick Grangien purchased Café Shelburne in September of 1988 and sold it after 25 magnificent years. While transitioning between owners, the restaurant will be closed briefly beginning Oct. 12 and reopen Oct. 24.
Chef Grangien initially developed an aptitude for cooking while apprenticing with chefs in France at age 15. “It was a three star restaurant,” he noted, “and I was working with many chefs… That is where I learned.” Later, he came to America to work for Bloomingdale’s in New York City where he met another chef looking to open a French restaurant in Vermont. Soon after, Grangien and his wife, Christine, opened Café Shelburne.
Grangien wanted to provide the best food and service, resourcing as much local produce and wine as possible. “Twenty-five years ago, that wasn’t easy.” Grangien states. “There was no distribution… Finding local breads, cheeses, and wines was not as easy as it is today.” And so the Grangiens kept their heads down and worked hard, sacrificing time with family, to build their restaurant into the monument it is today.
When asked about some of the major successes of the business, Grangien laughs: “That we’re still alive after 25 years! We’re one of the only ones.” The restaurant business has always been one of the hardest fields to make a living in – expenses alone can put owners under the table. Despite this, Grangien loves his work. “For me,” he says, “I love to cook. And we really enjoy our customers. We had a party just last week and saw four generations at one table, people we’ve known for years. We are going to be missing lots of people.”
The re-opening of Café Shelburne will see two new owners who are not new to the Shelburne area. Bill Iliff co-owned Bistro Sauce in Shelburne, and Weston Nicole is a Vermont native. Both chefs have worked in numerous establishments around the state, including Burlington’s Trattoria Delia. “They are a perfect fit… and have worked with me for five years,” Grangien says. “The Café will be in good hands!”
As for Patrick and Christine Grangien, the future holds a lot of travel and time spent with family. They love Shelburne and intend to stay in the area, although their next business endeavor is still a mystery. “Restaurant business? I don’t think so,” laughs Grangien.
Café Shelburne will temporarily close beginning Saturday, Oct. 12. Send the Grangiens off right, and stop in for a last taste of Chef Patrick’s French cuisine!