Cafe Provence adds new course

BRANDON — Café Provence chef Robert Barral and Line Barral will buy the downtown Brandon building that houses the restaurant and expand their business plan.
Robert Barral confirmed last week that he and his business partner are buying the Café Provence building on Center Street and will transform the larger space downstairs into a private dining room and state-of-the-art kitchen for cooking classes.
“We will come up with a curriculum and have visiting chefs from everywhere come and teach their craft and their specialties to people from this area and elsewhere,” Barral said. “We could also recruit students from other parts of the country.”
The renowned chef is not calling the endeavor a cooking school, however, saying, “We will not be giving out diplomas.”
The purchase of the building from Alex and Phyllis Rose of Burlington is contingent upon securing a $63,000 loan from the town of Brandon’s Revolving Loan Fund, which the selectboard unanimously approved at a meeting Dec. 6, as well as a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA). The purchase price is $556,000, and Barral said he is hoping to close on the deal on Dec. 30.
“I think it’s great,” said Brandon selectboard chairman Richard Baker. “Chef Barral has done a great job with the restaurant and Gourmet Provence and this will give him the opportunity to expand his business and do more great things.”
Among them will be video production of the cooking classes, Barral said, which he will then market to the public.
As for the kitchen, Barral said that numerous appliance companies have offered their products to him over the years, and his expansion plans will give him the chance to accept those offers and create a cutting-edge show kitchen. And Barral is anxious to get started.
“As soon as we sign at the closing, we will try to move full blast to achieve our goals,” he said. “We are ready for a change to something new, and everything just seems right.”
Café Provence opened in 2005 and quickly became a destination, offering gourmet cuisine with a casual touch. The Barrals then opened Gourmet Provence just down the street at 37 Conant Square, which offers fresh baked goods, specialty coffees, salads and paninis.
Gourmet Provence is also known for its extensive wine selection and Vermont delicacies including goat cheese and maple syrup.
Barral expressed his indebtedness to the town of Brandon and the SBA for their help in financing his initial business plan and the new venture.
“Line and I are so grateful to Lake Sunapee Bank, the town of Brandon and to the SBA,” Barral said. “Without their help, none of this would have been possible from the start. We are looking at Phase II, but would not have dreamed of such a thing without their help and faith in us.”

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