This year marks the 225th anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. France will celebrate the Fête Nationale with a grand military parade along the Champs-Élysées, dances, feasts, and a spectacular fireworks display from the Trocadero near the Eiffel Tower.
We are fortunate to have a large group of French expatriates who have chosen to live, own and/or operate businesses in South Miami. The French are having an impact here, from restaurants and beauty salons to fashion and health services. SoMi Magazine asked them about their businesses, why they chose South Miami, and how they plan to celebrate their native country’s Independence Day.
Vivant dans l’USA
FOOD AND NIGHTLIFE
George’s On Sunset: Georges-Eric Farge came to the U.S. from Lyon about 20 years ago. He has founded and owned a number of dining locations in south Florida, including Le Bouchon and George’s in the Grove. George’s has garnered a sizeable following of loyal customers with great food often generously laced with truffle oil and a hip approach to dining and entertaining. And it helps that Georges’ sheer force of personality is infectious and just plain fun.
He plans to celebrate July 14th by dressing up as his favorite person from French history, Napoleon Bonaparte—apparently, dressing up in outlandish costumes is one of Georges’ favorite ways to entertain his restaurant guests. On Sunday, July 13th, he will throw a big party for the FIFA World Cup finals from Brazil at the Sunset Drive location.
“We are going to have a big garden party. We’ll watch the game, serve mussels, and be extra generous with the champagne. It’s always crazy in here,” said Georges.
Janette & Co.: Two years ago, Agnes and Quentin Garrigou opened their store on Sunset as Le Macaron. This little shop of incredible treats became an instant success among aficionados of all things delicious. Now called Janette & Co., renamed in honor of their grandmothers, the patisserie and bakery continues to offer an outstanding range of genuine French delicacies, macarons and gelato. Quentin Garrigou makes the macarons (they aren’t anything like those sugary coconut things we call “macaroons”). Also available are the exquisite Norman Love Chocolates in those beautiful boxes. Go on and spoil yourself or buy a special gift for a hard-working magazine writer or a loved one at Janette & Co.
Why did Agnes and Quentin choose South Miami for their flagship business?
“It reminds us of France; South Miami is a small town in a big city,” said Agnes.
And there is more good news from Agnes and Quentin.A second store will be opening soon in Coral Gables at 208 Miracle Mile.
La Crepe Bistro: Florence Riguidel from the outskirts of Paris has owned this popular creperie for about three months. One of the winners in the “Blue Mall” trifecta of French owned and operated businesses La Crepe has been here for years in the excellent company of Café Pastis and Le Royal Bakery. Open for breakfast, lunch and late afternoon snacks, the eatery specializes in crepes (naturellement), salads, sandwiches, and French desserts. Florence takes special pride in her own preparation of foie gras salad. She sings the praises of Marie, her highly-experienced crepe chef, who has been preparing crepes to the delight of patrons at La Crepe Bistro for a number of years.
Florence has no special plans for French Independence Day this year. Perhaps she will consider a spectacular, special brunch for the bistro in 2015. She likes the location, her customers, and is pleased to be running her own business.
“I enjoy the independence my business gives me and I enjoy talking to my customers. I’m happy,” said Florence.
Café Pastis: Philippe Jacquet is the chef and owner of this restaurant that captures the essence of Provence with the sultry flavors of sea-inspired, saffron-flavored dishes presented in a bistro accented with the dark blues and sunny yellows associated with southern France. South Miami has had the privilege of enjoying Chef Jacquet’s authentic cuisine for about 15 years. He is a native of Marseille who was trained in Paris and later worked in New York with the renowned chef, Daniel Boulud.
Consistency of quality is the Chef’s secret to success, along with impeccable service and a must-have bouillabaisse served with freshly baked, crusty French bread and a glass of wine.
“I had a good feeling about the potential of South Miami and I was attracted to it. It is like a village—a little home,” says Chef Jacquet.
Café Bonjour: French-born Veronique Youbi and husband Ahmed (an excellent pastry chef), own and operate this cozy bistro located on US 1 in the PETCO shopping center. Fresh soup made and served daily along with sandwiches, quiche and more complex dishes such as mushroom ravioli and chicken forestiere make this a spot frequented by regulars.
Veronique and Ahmed have been in the U.S. since 1996. Like many of the proprietors from France, they chose South Miami for its small town feel and the friendliness of their clientele. “Our business is like home for our customers,” said Veronique.
They have no plans for this Independence Day, but want to host a combined Franco-American Independence Day celebration nest year. Ah, the best of both worlds!!
Nikita Paris and Vapomania: Nikita Paris owners Frederic and Natalie Dugourd recently opened another business, Vapomania near Joanna’s Marketplace on US 1. Since 2001, Nikita Paris has been providing upscale beauty services in the Town Center. French-trained coiffeurs, attention to detail, and customer service and comfort make Nikita one of South Miami’s most popular salons.
Vapomania is a shop for e-cigarettes and supplies with a difference. Liquids made safer by the use of UV-protected glass bottles with a glass dropper (no plastic) guarantee the purity of the contents for these high-end electronic cigarette products.
The Dugourd family came to the U.S. from Lyon 14 years ago for what Frederic calls “a change.”
“We have never been anywhere for work more welcoming and pleasant; the people are friendlier and we have more freedom in our businesses,” said Frederic.
Both he and Natalie agree that the weather in South Florida is also a major attraction for them.
How will they celebrate French independence?
“We celebrate the Fourth of July, not the Fourteenth,” said Natalie.
Lucy Agnes Couture: Owners Jacques Morera and Missy Freygang combine their talents and experience in the French and American fashion worlds to create clothing that is elegant, simple and timeless. Jacques, who is French, has an extensive background in the fashion industry and comes from a family that has long been part of the couture business in Paris. Missy is a fashion designer from right here in South Florida. Their clothing is tailor-made of the finest Korean silks. They have been in business in South Miami for 16 years. Three years ago they moved from Sunset to the Plaza 57 building. “Bijoux,” their little Maltese dog is the official store greeter.
“We love what we do here in South Miami. This is the only place we want to be,” said Missy.
Gyrotonic Coral Gables: Yannis Brunet and Angela Crowley met in France where Angela, an American, was teaching Juliu Horvath’s patented Gyrotonic method. The couple married and three years ago opened their business on Red Road in South Miami. The Gyrotonic method uses exercise for both fitness and rehabilitation to increase strength and flexibility, renew energy and produce a general sense of calm and well-being. The method combines several different types of exercise, using the body’s natural movements. They often teach abroad and work with clients on a one-to-one basis.
Yannis Brunet is from a small town near Lyon. He and Angela Live in
“We are rooted here. My husband loves this area which reminds him of the French Riviera. He even painted the walls of our business a lovely shade of blue,” said Angela.Yannis Brunet is from a small town near Lyon. He and Angela Live in South Miami.
“We are rooted here. My husband loves this area which reminds him of the French Riviera. He even painted the walls of our business a lovely shade of blue,” said Angela.
Clinic Libessart: TThe clinic specializes in French soft tissue massage and offers a host of services that promote health, well-being and beauty. Didier and Sophie Libessart are physical therapists trained and educated in France. They came to Florida about five years ago after working in France for 20 years in physical therapy and osteopathy. In a few short years, they have expanded their scope of services to include partners who are highly qualified in general and esthetic medicine, osteopathy, acupuncture, and psychology.
Clinic Libessart offers, among many other services, Gemology cosmetics and skin care products, LPG cellulite treatment, Lipomassage, and the Huber Motion lab for toning, slimming, improving posture and flexibility.
When asked why they settled on South Miami for the location of their American-based business, Sophie replied, “Because there are so many French people here; we feel at home.”
So, the French, we hope are here to stay. Like so many others who come to our country from foreign lands, they give us so much more than they realize. We are the true beneficiaries of all that Gallic attention to detail, love of excellence over the commonplace, flair for design and joie de vivre. Merci, mes amis.