Owner Andrea Sims works behind the counter at National Boulangerie, a bakery that opened last week at the corner of National and Walton Avenues. Sims, an artist, and her husband, restaurant veteran Krim Boughalem, are renovating the former industrial building into sophisticated space with an open feel. Photos by Tom Eblen
When Andrea Sims moved back to Lexington from New York City with her French husband, Krim Boughalem, they made waves in the local food scene by opening Wine + Market in 2008 and Table Three Ten in 2010.
Their latest venture could be more like a tsunami.
National Boulangerie, a French-inspired bakery, opened last week at the corner of National and Walton avenues. Within six months, they plan to build out the rest of their 16,000-square-foot space with a brasserie restaurant, wine shop, beer garden, grocery and oyster bar under the umbrella name National Provisions.
“Wine + Market was a perfect start for what we want to do, but the space was too small,” Boughalem said. “This is the same thing on a much bigger scale.”
The couple’s goal is to replicate aspects of traditional French cuisine and food systems, but give them a distinctly Kentucky flavor. Through volume buying, doing all of their own cooking and managing the synergies of each business to reduce waste, they hope to keep food quality high and prices affordable.
“We would like to make everything from scratch here, with ingredients from local farmers,” Sims said. “We’re trying to get back to the old-fashioned idea of food.”
Plans include brewing small batches of their own beer for the beer garden. The wine shop will include a tap so customers can bring their own containers to fill. Boughalem also plans to sell seafood wholesale to other restaurants.
“A traditional French brasserie has a theme, the region where it is located,” he said. “Our theme will be the Bluegrass, so we will mix French bread and pastries with biscuits and gravy, chicken and dumplings.”
National Provisions is housed in a turn-of-the-century industrial building the couple has leased long-term from Walker Properties, which is redeveloping National Avenue as mixed-use commercial zone. This building’s previous uses included a bottling plant and tile shop.
“We had noticed the building driving by and just loved it,” Sims said. “When it came available, we had just opened Table Three Ten and weren’t even settled in there. But we went ahead and got it because the building and location were just perfect for us.”
Only minutes from downtown, National Provisions is nestled between the increasingly affluent Bell Court, Mentelle and Kenwick neighborhoods and the busy corridor where Midland Avenue becomes Winchester Road.
Boughalem, 47, who had nearly two decades of restaurant experience in New York and London before moving to Lexington, spent two years scouring eBay and auctions for used restaurant equipment and fixtures.
The couple has assembled a huge commercial kitchen that will be the engine of their enterprise. Brian Surbaugh, executive chef at Table Three Ten, heads a five-person staff that is getting the kitchen up and running.
Sims, 44, redesigned the cavernous building into elegantly casual space with an open floor plan and lots of natural light. Red steel frames of glass will divide the beer garden and wine shop — and give patrons a full view of the kitchen.
The bakery’s exposed ceiling beams have been painted bright red. Counters and tables were made from pink Norwegian marble bought at a bargain price. Sims spent countless hours painting a faux-marble finish on the walls — an old-world skill she learned while studying art in France.
A year after opening Table Three Ten on West Short Street at Cheapside, the couple sold Wine + Market, at the corner of West Second and Jefferson streets, to Renee and Seth Brewer, who also own the nearby Enoteca wine bar. Boughalem and Sims plan to keep Table Three Ten.
National Boulangerie is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. Once the restaurant, beer garden and wine shop open, operating hours will extend to midnight.
The market will be the most unusual aspect of the couple’s plan. They expect it to open by late spring, selling fresh local meat and produce, fresh seafood and European cheeses, meats and specialty foods.
Boughalem and Sims think they will find plenty of customers, thanks to the growing popularity of fresh, local food and TV cooking shows that are turning more people into “foodies.”
The market also will offer prepared, ready-to-eat meals, which Boughalem thinks will appeal to people who want gourmet food but lack the time or skill to prepare it. “People are getting used to buying more quality,” he said. “For many, good food is a luxury they can afford.”
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