Bienvenue owner Frederic Vidal is handing over the keys to the restaurant to a New York-based chef at the end of the month, when Vidal and his wife, Audrey, high-tail it to sunny Florida. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
He came, he accomplished his goal to inject Red Bank with some authentic French fare, and now he’s escaping New Jersey’s harsh winters for the land of sunshine and gated communities, Boca Raton, Fla.
Four years after taking over Le Petit France and renaming it Bienvenue, France native Frederic Vidal, along with his wife, Audrey, are turning over their tiny dining space to a New York-based chef on February 27. Just last week the couple signed a lease on a space where they’ll open a French deli and catering business.
The move, Vidal said, is largely based on the weather, but at 37 years old, he’s also looking to tackle a new project.
“It’s sunny over there, and hot,” he said. “Now I leave the restaurant here. It’s built, it’s running good.”
Unless you’re familiar with the Vidals, chances are you won’t notice the difference once they’re gone. Vidal said the name’s staying the same and the menu will stay largely unchanged. It will be, he said, “a seamless transition,” to the new owner/chef, Mark Fontaine.
Of course he’ll miss his loyal customers and friends that he’s made over the last few years, he said. Before settling in Red Bank, Vidal made a brief stop in Summit when he emigrated from France.
“It was good. We had a good time with our customers,” Vidal said. “Am I sad? Oh yeah, sure.”
There’s still time to bid the Vidals adieu. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner, and will still offer a Valentine’s Day special before ownership changes on February 27.