Birth of a Restaurant: Coquette

Raleigh is fortunate to be getting a classic French brasserie, Coquette, the latest venture from the Urban Food Group restaurant company.  Coquette, which basically means “flirty girl”, will be taking over the space previously inhabited by South in the North Hills Mall.

I’m very fortunate in that I’ve been granted complete access to the Coquette project.  From the business plan, financial model, menu and recipe development, to extensive interviews with the owners, chefs, and front of the house managers, I’ll be telling a story over the next few months about the opening of a new, high-end restaurant.  You’ll learn about construction, finances, landlord relationships — things that you just don’t hear about very often.  If you have questions, ask them here, as I’ll try to get answers.  In the end, this should make a compelling story of what goes into a restaurant.

Coquette is scheduled to open in late October or early November, and right now, the construction site is a typical mess.  Nothing from South remains except for the kitchen, an overly large, inefficient space.  But when you’re talking about a restaurant that hopes to have 400 covers a night, you might need a huge kitchen.  Time will tell.

The menu will be classic brasserie, with a huge menu of standard dishes, but many with a contemporary twist.  The wine list will be French, French and more French, and damn it, that’s a good thing.

So let me know what you want to know about this new edition to the Raleigh restaurant scene.  Making this an interactive experience should be fun for all, and if you learn something new, well, that’s just a bonus.


15 Responses to Birth of a Restaurant: Coquette

  1. Tela T says:

    any idea about whether they intend on using local sources for menus? I don’t assume anything when it comes to large restaurants (400 covers). Thanks for the insight… looking forward to it.

  2. catena says:

    If by local you mean food, there’s no restaurant which plans on doing 400 covers a night that can sustainably serve french food sourced locally…..unless you consider Smithfield local.

  3. Varmint says:

    I think that there will be a major effort to use local sources whenever possible, particularly when it comes to produce, but as Catena pointed out, there’s only so much that they can do when they’re going to be that busy. Moreover, a lot of menu items aren’t available locally.

  4. michael says:

    But will it have soul? Local sourcing…thats nice, a value added quality. Authenticity…whatever, we’re Americans, the definition of that word is up in the air. Brasserie food, and bistro food for that matter, is SOUL food. Yes, French soul food. In other words, will it be “cuisine bourgeoise” or will I see words like “truffel oil” or “foam” on the menu. Blanquette de veau please, and thanks for the report!

  5. Varmint says:

    Patience, my friends, patience. I have the menu, but you’ll have to wait for that. You’ll see pictures of the space, too. And you’ll learn about the finances. But I’m going to do this slowly, telling a different part of the story with each post. I’m no journalist, so don’t expect any fancy prose, and realize that my progression of posts may not be all that logical, but in the end, I think you’ll know more about this restaurant pre-opening than any other one.

  6. sara says:

    I am interested to know what made them change from “South” to “Coquette”… was South not doing well? Is it a difficult location as this will be the third restaurant there in about three years? What makes the restaurant group think this will succeed where others have failed? I don’t mean to be harsh but I am curious. The group obviously knows what they are doing as their other restaurants appear to do very well. I know I have enjoyed eating at many of them and look forward to a new addition.

    I have lurked on this site for quite awhile and truly enjoy your posts. Thanks for keeping me informed of the Raleigh food scene. Plus I made the berry cobbler recipe you posted this past summer and my family was truly happy!

  7. VaNC says:

    Here is my thought, at this point. More like my hope, I guess. I hope it is a true “brassiere” as I think that term is used in France. A corner place, where you can get simple, wonderful, French food all day. I am glad to hear there will be a huge menu of standard dishes, but worry when you describe it as “high end”. There are so many struggling great “high-end” places in Raleigh now. So many times, though, what our family or just my husband and I are looking for, is somewhere to get wonderful, simple good food for a reasonable price. Something between sandwiches and gourmet that won’t break the budget. You know, like a corner brassiere.

    There is a place my hometown, Richmond, called the Can Can, that is just like this. Often our go-to place in Richmond when we go back. The menu is simple and traditional, the prices are not “high-end” and it is casual and loud enough that the kids are fine in there. In fact, except for late at night, there are many families in there…as you would see in France. Richmond also has lots of independently owned, non-fast food, but casual places to eat, that people have been going to for years. Simple reliable, good mid-priced food of various cuisines.

    There are so few choices, if any, in Raleigh between very casual and very fancy. To me, the Pit is about the only place I can describe this way now. Where I can get a drink, the kids can get something simple, home cooked, mostly locally sourced, for under $12. Where I can have an option of a couple nicer meals, but can also go simple.

    I just long for a place where we can, on a crazy night, just say “I don’t feel like cooking, lets just go get X at Coquette” If it is “high-end” we won’t be able to say that. We would have to wait for a special occasion.

    Hey, a girl can hope……………..

  8. Varmint says:

    I will tell you that Coquette is “high end” from the perspective that they’re pumping a million dollars to gut and rebuild the space. That money is not going into the kitchen, for the most part. I think you’ll be pleased with the menu — it’s very comprehensive (although the one I have doesn’t include prices yet). I suspect your moules frites won’t cost you an arm and a leg. And they’ll be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner during the week and a separate brunch menu on weekends.

  9. Julie S says:

    Who is the architect? Will they use someone local?

  10. mkwewer says:

    As long as their version of “French” does not equal “pretentious” I think it will be a welcome addition to the area….I heart good, unassuming, real French good….zee sin-gal be-be car-rot on zee stark white plate for zee price of $39.99 is not going to work for me – or most people….

  11. Fran Baker says:

    Hello from Florida. My husband and I have eaten at Fraziers and Porters Bar & Grill restaurants in Raleigh in passing through your area, and I only wish we had such treasures in our Brevard County of Florida Space Coast!

    Stacey and Kevin put in very long hours at what they do, and do it very well. The decor, ambience, chefs and wait staff are excellent and I am sure Coquette will be up to the high standards of their other 3 restaurants! We wish them huge success in their new venture and can’t wait to visit!

  12. joe six pack says:

    i can’t see how that huge monstrosity of a building will have the nice quaint feel of a brasserie.i remember eating at South felt like i was eating in a gymnasium.

  13. Varmint says:

    Brasseries are usually pretty big and airy. One can hardly say Brasserie Jo, Les Halles or Balthazar are “quaint.” Are you confusing it with a bistro?

  14. joe six pack says:

    yeah maybe i am.

  15. Shileno says:

    Let’s compromise: a0The demoarctic party tells there members not to vote for several years. a0The republican party tells their people to vote. Those of us who don’t belong to any party will decide on our own whether or not to vote. It would be the perfect compromise.Reply

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