Chef opens new café at former Victoria Grill
A new café has opened in Hamilton, and it carries the spirit of the original Lemon Tree Café.
Chef Jean-Claude Garzia has created JC’s Café at the premises formerly used by Victoria Grill, on Victoria Street.
It has initially opened as a takeout café, but in the coming months it will expand to include a casual café-bistro restaurant.
Mr Garzia was one of the co-founders of The Lemon Tree Café on Queen Street and helped run it from 2002 until it was sold in 2008 when he and his business partner took over the lease of the Beau Rivage restaurant at Newstead Belmont Hills resort.
The opportunity to open JC’s Café came when Victoria Grill closed in March. Mr Garzia was asked if he would be interested in doing something with the location. He said yes, and has spent the last three months improving the premises.
“I remodelled the entire kitchen and the front and counter and made it more modern. It is going to be a café-bistro — very casual with salads and a healthy menu,” he said.
The café is at 29 Victoria Street and like Beau Rivage it is operated by J&L Group, which is owned by Mr Garzia.
JC’s Café has a “to go” service up and running. The menu features breakfast items, lunch paninis and sandwiches, soup, salads, desserts and cookies.
Mr Garzia sees the new café as carrying on the essence of the Lemon Tree Café.
“We should never have sold Lemon Tree. I’m putting it back,” he said, mentioning that the “famous chicken pies and wraps” are returning.
The café-bistro will be on one street-level floor. The aim is to complete renovations of the main restaurant area by December. The floor will be changed, and there will be new lighting, and new tables and chairs.
“There will be a service bar, nice tables and chairs. It will be more colourful and bright. We’ll be serving guacamole at the table.”
Other menu items will include salads, steak and fries.
Mr Garzia came to Bermuda in 1981 as sous chef at the Hamilton Princess. He left the island for Atlanta in 1984, but returned the following year to become executive chef at Cambridge Beaches before opening the former Lemon Tree Café and subsequently taking over the lease of Beau Rivage restaurant a decade ago.
He also won the Best Chef of France title in 1996.
Mr Garzia believes the new café-bistro will also give Newstead Belmont Hills guests a place to visit in Hamilton that they will be familiar with due to its link with Beau Rivage.
When asked how he will simultaneously run the hotel restaurant and the café, he said: “Organisation is part of our thing. We have got two good Bermudians working for us. When you are good at what you do, you keep going.”
He added that he sees no reason why JC’s cannot be as successful as Lemon Tree, which he said regularly attracted upwards of 400 customers each day.
JC’s Café is open from 7.30am to 4pm on weekdays, and noon to 2pm on Saturdays. The opening hours will be extended when the restaurant side of the business opens, with dinner service to 10pm.
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