VtSBDC Assistance Helps Rapid, Seamless Restaurant Transition
Replacing a longtime Burlington dining mecca with one of the state’s only full service restaurants specializing in modern French cuisine is a challenge any chef would recognize as a serious undertaking. But that didn’t stop chef Herve Mahe from opening Bistro de Margot at 126 College Street in September, 2015, just 10 days after purchasing the business.
Formerly the site of the popular Italian eatery L’Amante, which ran out of the location for 12 years prior, Bistro de Margot now serves up seasonally inspired French fare inspired by the memory of Mahe’s grandmother Marguerite.
“Before it was fashionable, she was a foodie and localvore, harvesting fruits and vegetables from her own garden for her kitchen and table. I still remember the aromas and flavors of her recipes that she concocted on the fly, inspired only by her intuition and especially by her desire to please her family,” Mahe said. “I have shared her passion since I was a boy.”
Mahe brings 30-plus years of experience in the culinary arts to Bistro de Margot. Born and raised in France, he trained at the prestigious Ferrandi School of the French Culinary Arts in Paris and at some of the finest restaurants in Europe, Canada and the United States. While he had a wealth of experience in the culinary world, he did need some assistance with the details of purchasing and buying the longtime eatery. That’s when he contacted Vermont Small Business Development Center Area Advisor Steve Densham.
“I needed advice as to what I should be looking out for. I needed an outside view on this business, without bias, someone who could tell me right at the beginning of the project if we were on the right track, if the concept was not totally foolish, if we were over optimistic about the project,” Mahe said. The two quickly went to work on the sometimes complicated process of transitioning staff, business purchase, financial projections and more.
“Working with VtSBDC gave me confidence that my project was on the right track, that it was financially sound, without a cumbersome process,” Mahe said. “Steve Densham was a tremendous help. He acted as a sound board. I knew a lot, but he helped in clarifying ideas, he helped finding the right people to help us make this company a fun place to run! His knowledge of the restaurant business was and still is a great asset that I still tap in on a regular basis.”