Today we’d like to introduce you to Bernard Tronche.
Bernard, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born in France and grew up there. Never did I intend to move permanently to the USA. I just came here at age 21 with a couple of friends from France to travel. After 6 months or so I heard about a fine dining French restaurant in Dallas that needed a waiter. I thought – I can do that, make a little money and head down to South America before returning to France. It was 1979. I worked at Calluaud on McKinney where the Hard Rock Café is now located – if it still exists. Chef Guy Calluaud is immensely talented and I learned so much in the kitchen as well as European fine dining service.
Eventually I met an American woman, Karin Kelly, a news reporter and anchor, and we married in 1982. A good French friend of mine had moved to Fort Worth to open a restaurant and he encouraged me to do the same. March 1985, I opened Saint-Emilion near the cultural District. My grandfather back in France loaned me about $5000. and here and there I came up with a bit more. Thirty five years later, we are still at it — cooking in a walk-in-sized closet of a kitchen and seating anywhere from 40 to 100 guests a night in a dining room with 16 tables. Everyday is still a challenge! Equipment maintenance is a big issue but like any business owner, you take it one day at a time. I still wake up and within an hour I’m checking reservations and working on the night’s seating. Fort Worth has been a good city for me and we are lucky enough to have many Dallas customers and those from all of North Texas. We encouraged our two now adult sons not to go into the restaurant business but it’s what I chose and I imagine I’ve got a few more years to go on West 7th Street! Bon Appétit!
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Air conditioners, ovens, refrigeration, computers – even the music system, there’s always something that’s needing a repair so that takes some much time. Wine salespeople pop in everyday and while tasting wine and buying it are very important parts of my job and menu, it’s time consuming and interruptive. Our wine list is ever-changing though so it’s necessary. Employees, too, are a challenge although right now all is going well in the dining room and the kitchen! Knock on wood. Time – just finding more time every single day to get it all done is my greatest struggle.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I specialize in a wonderful food experience. Fine dining is about elegant and attentive service as well as remarkable dishes. I find that customers also enjoy our location in a freestanding building rather than a shopping center space. It’s unusual anymore to find that since property is so expensive. While we are very small and I would like at least another 1000 square feet, our dining room does have intimacy and charm, at least, that’s what I hear! I think that sets us apart, the food quality, the attentive service, the charm — and even our Bistro Nights. Every Tuesday and Wednesday we offer a Bistro menu where if you order by 7:30pm, the price for a 3 course dinner is $25 plus 1 $5 gratuity. You can’t order anything on the menu – the Bistro Menu is one set 3 course meal that changes each week. That definitely sets us apart. People love a delicious dinner and a fantastic price!
What were you like growing up?
First, I could have cared less about food. I was a very picky eater but in France, you do grow up with an appreciation of food and wine – that might exist now in the USA but probably it was not the case in the 1960’s when I was a boy and young teenager. I was probably a typical guy – enjoying pranks with friends, loving motorcycles and cars and not taking school seriously enough. I made very good grades but I was sometimes in trouble with a teacher for my smart mouth. I always wanted to travel though and I always had an appreciation for the finer things from watches to wine.
- The Full Menu (first course, main course, dessert) $69.50 including gratuity on food
- Two course: $58.50 including gratuity
- One Course/Mnimum charge per guest: $58.50
- Address: Saint-Emilion Restaurant
3617 West 7th Street,
Fort Worth, TX 76107
- Website: saint-emilionrestaurant.com
- Phone: 817-737-2781