Standing in his new Maison Le Caer cafe in the Market Arcade, owner Camille Le Caer was flipping through satellite TV channels until he found what he was looking for, a French news channel covering large demonstrations in Paris by the gilets jaunes.
“Ever been to Paris?” he asked me.
No, I replied.
“They have these kinds of demonstrations all the time,” he said.
Le Caer may have two restaurants to oversee, a wife, a young child at home and another one on the way, but that doesn’t mean he can’t make time to keep tabs on what’s going on back in his native France.
The new Maison Le Caer has blessed the Market Arcade for downtown people that also need to reconnect and practice a bit of self-care; like haggered professionals and the on-the-go theater people looking for a bite to eat.
The new takeout cafe features all the hits you know and love from Pastry by Camille on Hertel: sweet crepes, savory crepes, and those macarons. There are also sandwiches on house-made sourdough or croissant, as well as a soup du jour. I was told there are plans to offer waffles “with a lot of different butters” in the near future.
The focal points at the Pastry by Camille downtown location are speed and convenience. Guests should expect to get food within 5 to 6 minutes.
Only about 500 square feet in size, the space lends itself to grab-n-go, but that doesn’t mean the new cafe isn’t comfortable. The decor is tasteful; a combination of modern and classic. A mural on the wall next to the open kitchen is comprised of simple triangles painted with primary colors. Contrasting that is a beautiful set of Victorian armchairs, which look perfectly at home in the neoclassical architecture of the Market Arcade.
“I’ve always wanted to get Victorian chairs in and create a little cocoon in the city,” Le Caer said. “Something like out of Harry Potter: You go through these doors, and it’s like a different world after getting off from a busy day of work.”
Lexie Le Caer, Camille wife, curates art and books art shows for Pastry by Camille on Hertel, and Camille said they plan to further expand the art program to the downtown location.
The new Maison Le Caer is located just a few doors down from the EXPO food hall, and Le Caer said that presents both the opportunity to draw more customers, as well as a few challenges.
“The challenge of a shared market, as I saw in New York City, is having enough food offerings,” he said. “Like if you only have three kinds of offerings, you’re not satisfying enough people.
“Also, we’ve all got to be on the same page with customer service,” he added. “Our customers today are the customers of our neighbors tomorrow, so we’ve got to give the same level of service and try to satisfy everyone.”
He admitted to me that service at the Hertel location had fallen short at times.
“I got torched in the last six month because we didn’t get on top of that, and I take full responsibility,” he said. “I think that good customer service is a must. It’s the most important thing.”
Both Pastry by Camille and Maison Le Caer are small operations, but Le Caer said he’s gotten “a fine crew” together and is focused on providing great food and service at both locations.
“We want to maintain what we’ve started,” he said. “I want two locations that are beautiful and working well. That would be also a real hit for me; having a place north and south.”
BTW, if you’re hankering for killer crepes but find it hard to make it out to either location, Le Caer said Skip the Dishes could be a possibility in the near future. So keep your eyes peeled on that app.
617 Main Street, Buffalo
Opening Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., possible evening theater hours to come.