The idea is to create the look, the taste — the everything — of a French cafe.
Mille will be as French as its owners, Marcel and Stephanie Remillieux of Los Alamos.
The pair — she from Paris and he from Corsica — met years ago as physics students at Virginia Tech. A job opening posted at a Kansas City, Mo., conference brought them in 2013 to Los Alamos National Laboratory, where Marcel Remillieux works in wave physics.
“The point is I want you to feel like you’re traveling somewhere else,” Marcel Remillieux said about the cafe the duo is opening in the former Bouche Bistro space downtown. “It’s going to be French, unequivocally.”
LANL became more of a part-time pursuit in 2017 when the couple opened a cafe and small grocery, Fleur de Lys, in Los Alamos. Now follows Mille, “taking Fleur de Lys to the next level,” Marcel Remillieux said.
The couple purchased the Bouche Bistro property, 451 W. Alameda St., from Jimmy and Jennifer Day, who are in the process of dismantling their dormant downtown fine dining establishments.
Bouche Bistro offered French fine dining until the first shutdown of the coronavirus pandemic.
Marcel and Stephanie Remillieux will transform the space into another shade of French with Mille — specifically, shades of blue and black to replace Bouche’s rustic wood-colored theme.
“We are going to modify the cosmetics,” Marcel Remillieux said.
The difference will be day and night, literally. Bouche served dinner only; Mille will offer breakfast, brunch and lunch, possibly by the end of fall.
Fleur de Lys quickly attracted a following in Los Alamos with crepes, sandwiches and pastries.
One side of the store features French grocery items, the other side bakery display cases. A waffle iron is at the far end. There are several small tables in the shop, but the couple have reduced the number of tables and wouldn’t mind having even fewer.
“We didn’t want something overly complicated,” Marcel Remillieux said about Fleur de Lys. “[Mille] is going to be slightly more complicated.”
The Santa Fe eatery will have some groceries but also will have indoor and outdoor dining areas. Mille will have a larger selection of crepes, as well as French salads, cheese trays, a plat du jour — simple daily entrée — and possibly soups.
“You can go to fine dining or you can go to a low-key French cafe,” Marcel Remillieux said. “We’re going to do something in between. We want something high-quality, reasonably priced, fast. You can be in and out instead of waiting for an hour.”
Mille also will offer macarons, cakes to order, morning pastries and classic French desserts.
Marcel Remillieux lifted the name from a bakery his grandfather operated in Ajaccio, the largest city on Corsica. His great-grandfather was a baker, too.
The couple have been thinking about expanding to Santa Fe for a couple of years. Los Alamos is landlocked. Marcel Remillieux said owning commercial property on the Hill is nearly impossible.
They seek to fill a void here.
“It’s something we were always talking about,” Stephanie Remillieux said. “It’s hard to find something not too fancy.”
What drove a pair of physicists to be restaurateurs?
“There is an intellectual bubble,” Marcel Remillieux said. “There is a cultural bubble. You need a bit of both. That’s why we are transitioning from physics to restaurant.”
They continue to live in Los Alamos, but their business focus is shifting to Santa Fe.
“This is going to be our priority,” Marcel Remillieux said. “We bought the building. I don’t know what will happen with Fleur de Lys. I don’t want to answer those questions right now.”