Slated to open midway through March in downtown Calhoun at 203 S. Wall Street, the French Bread Cafe will aim to provide a health-conscious, affordable fusion of scrumptious, traditional French cuisine and southern-inspired dishes to the Gordon County community.
The cafe will be owned and operated by Georges Develay, who will also serve as head chef. A seasoned veteran of the food industry, Develay hails from a family that owns five food businesses in France. He owned the only French food truck in Miami, Fla. for eight years, and moved to Calhoun three years ago to be close to a couple of friends and escape the bustling city life. In the meantime, he has fallen in love with this community and wants to offer his skills and unique palate to the area.
"I moved to Calhoun because of the family spirit and atmosphere that the place has," Develay said. "Some people advised me that this downtown area is a tough place to open a restaurant because of parking and other issues, but I love it here and I think this city can embrace a place with quality food."
As far as the menu for The French Bread Cafe is concerned, Develay still has a few final decisions to make regarding what is going to be a part of the official selection and what hours of the day they will be open. He did share that common lunch items such as sandwiches, wraps and soups will be featured. He added that the rest of the menu will be versatile, and will have a plethora of special items based on his cultural experiences.
"I'm French, so a lot of the food will be influenced by that, with southern flavors influencing the dishes as well," Develay said. "I think the menu will have all the basics that everyone loves and is comfortable with, but my goal is to also bring a variety of dishes that Calhoun has never had the opportunity of trying before."
The menu will also evolve based on what ingredients are available. Motivated by alarming health documentaries such as "Food, Inc." and "What The Health," Develay noted that he wants the food he prepares to use locally sourced products that are in-season. He wants to avoid using artificial, manufactured ingredients and pre-prepared meals.
"As a French chef, what we cook is based off of what is in-season, so I plan on working very closely with the farmers in the area," Develay said. "It's not just about exchanging money for food. We want to create a connection between the customers, the local farmers and even Gordon Hospital, who will be helping us provide healthy options. We want to create healthy food that actually tastes good, while also benefiting the local economy."
This cleaner and fresher approach to preparing food will also help provide dining options for those with any kind of dietary restriction, such as gluten or dairy-free, low sodium and food allergies.
According to Develay, no matter what ends up on the menu, it will be affordable.
"The menu will be flexible, but whatever we serve, the prices will remain affordable because that is part of a good restaurant experience," Develay said. "It's not easy, but we will keep the prices as low as we can."
As Develay and his staff settle in, they hope to use The French Bread Cafe as more than just a location to consume food, but a place that becomes an integral part of the community and brings people closer through the cuisine. Develay plans to eventually feature cooking classes and documentary showings on a regular basis. The cafe will also serve as a venue for birthday parties and wedding and baby showers.
In an extension of the healthy footprint Develay hopes The French Bread Cafe will leave on Gordon County, the location is hosting an interactive discussion featuring world-renowned, Las Vegas-based chef Mark Anthony and his effective Vegan Plant-Based Diet approach to cleaner eating at 7 p.m. on March 7. Dr. William Brannon and Dr. Joni Yamamoto from Gordon Hospital will also be present to answer questions. The event will go on as planned regardless if the cafe has officially opened or not, and the entire public is invited.
"I just want to serve people the best way that I know how," Develay said. "This is less of a restaurant to me and more of a mission. I think that is what will separate this place from other businesses. I just want people to walk away happy, and at the end of the day it is all about love and treating people the right way. Life is difficult, especially if you are trying to make healthy decisions, so we are trying to help them stay positive. I'm a Christian, and I know I am here for a reason, and this is the talent God gave me to serve people."