the best way to start your day or just take a break and enjoy a regal Francais classique
Cafe Francais has been a beloved Tucson tradition since 2012. Many remember the brick-and-mortar restaurant once located at Plaza Palomino. Many also remember McMahon's Prime Steakhouse, which used to sit across the street before closing in May of 2015. Not that we want to give you a history lesson regarding the openings and closings of Tucson restaurants, but something special happened in that last year of McMahon's operating existence: Two people met each other.
To be fair, many folks met each other in 2014. To that end, nothing supremely extraordinary happened. But these two people were tasked with devising and developing a re-vamped dessert program for the steakhouse across the street and, for inspiration, they decided to head over to Cafe Francais for some classic and beautiful pastries--and for inspiration.
Overall the dessert menu was a success. But the restaurant at which it was implemented was rather more ill-fated; and, after McMahon's closed its doors for good, the employees scattered throughout Tucson to find a new path and face new challenges. Some went on to similarly ill-fated establishments; some floundered; some bounced around. As for that pair of pastry professionals, one moved on to become Pastry Chef at a Northeast Tucson restaurant geared toward the dinner-and-brunch crowd, and the other moved on to eventually become Corporate Executive Chef overseeing seven concepts in two states.
In 2019 those same two people faced a new task: Help a local restaurant group open a new concept in Northwest Tucson. Once again they were in charge of devising and developing an exceptional dessert program, one that would stand high above the competition. And, once again, the desserts were a smashing success.
But not everything works out the way we think it might; and, shortly after that restaurant flung open its doors to the ravenous public, the pastry duo parted ways with the restaurant they'd worked so hard to help open, and found before themselves yet another challenge: How to move forward? Recently married, recently downsized living quarters and dreaming of saving enough to travel the country if not the world within the next three to five years, suddenly their whole world turned upside down and the newlyweds went from go-go-go to an abrupt and definitive halt.
To be sure, they knew what they wanted to do: Keep focussed on baking and pastry. But they weren't exactly happy with their options. Tucson, for all its sunny glory, downtown festivals, county fair shenanigans and U of A fandom, has pretty regularly voted Beyond Bread or some other corporate chain the Number One Bakery in Tucson for many years in a row. Surely there must be something better for these newlyweds with a combined three decades' experience in the industry, mustn't there?
On a whim, an early-morning Google search revealed a bakery for sale. And at a reasonable price, no less, with a focus on sales at farmer's markets and through catering: The perfect small business to which to dedicate one's time and energy, established enough to make a living but also possessed of great potential for growth.
Following initial contact with the sellers' broker and the signing of a pretty straightforward nondisclosure agreement, the pastry couple found themselves schedulled to meet with the current owners of this unknown entity--only to find themselves face-to-face with the owners of Cafe Francais, to which they'd gone years before to find inspiration for their steakhouse dessert menu!
By this time the brick-and-mortar restaurant had closed; and the original owners were looking to retire: They'd been in the industry for literally the better part of a century, and they were tired. They wanted to move back to France. And, they happened to like the youthful newlywed couple: By the end of the first meeting, it was practically a done deal.
We wanted to carry on the brand and the name that had already been established--that was and has been our Number One Priority. To that end, you can find Cafe Francais four to five days a week at different farmers' markets in and around Southern Arizona--whether in central Tucson on Sundays (Rillito Market), down in Green Valley on Wednesdays, up in Oro Valley on Saturdays, out on the east side at Udall Park and Rincon Markets, or even capturing the younger crowd down at the U of A Mall. We got a lot of the old recipes, and we've developed (or already had) quite a few more of our own--including our rye-starter sourdough bread selection (classic sourdough, rye with caraway, mesquite bread, and wheat and sometimes kalamata olive bread), an even more traditional French bread, and new-and-improved quiche, tarts, and other pastries (including lemon-lavender meringue, artichoke and roasted bell pepper quiche, lobster quiche with truffle oil, and chocolate-hazelnut "cruffins").
Carry on the brand and name that had been established, sure; but also infuse the whole package with a bit of energy and enthusiasm, for everyone to enjoy--from owner to staff to customer, making sure everyone's needs are met and everyone's memories renewed with every market purchase. Now we offer catering for weddings and receptions, corporate events, holiday parties, and more. And we're slowly but surely developing our wholesale business, gaining greater visibility and overall presence with each new account. So take a look at our menu--whether you're planning on going to the market, throwing a party, or looking for a higher-quality product for your restaurant or business; and we'll either see you at the market, at a tasting/event consultation, or maybe even at the gas station or local grocery store. Bonjour, les amis!