Lyonnais d’Acton owners retire after 50 years
Joanne Labrosse and her husband, Chef Gerard, have operated Le Lyonnais on Great Road in Acton for 50 years. As they prepare to sell their property and business and embark on new adventures in retirement, Labrosse spoke about what has made his restaurant a longtime gem in Acton.
What type of food does your restaurant serve?
We serve French country as well as Chef Gerard’s familiar and creative dishes. All our meals are accompanied by fresh vegetables and sides for a balanced and healthy dining experience.
What are the specialty dishes?
Seafood Bretonne (shrimps and scallops in a lobster base), Duckling with Orange, Rack of Lamb and Beef Surprise (wrapped fillet of mushrooms in a homemade crepe).
We do a French Margherita and a French Martini, a range of champagne drinks, as well as a wine list which mainly includes wines from the different regions of France.
Behind the plate::Arrival at Lyonnais in 2017
Do you have vegan or gluten free items?
Yes, we do and our dishes are prepared for you when you order them and can therefore be adapted to your dietary requirements.
Can you accommodate people with food allergies?
What challenges has the pandemic posed to your restaurant and how have you overcome them?
Chef Gérard likes to say that he has avoided pessimism all his life. He said, “I always try to look on the bright side and think about what’s new, what’s next, and how to thrive when things aren’t what I expected.”
Mandatory capacity reduction in 2020 has been difficult, but we have taken action and expanded our takeaway offering. We found that many people were interested in meals for their whole family. There seemed to be a surge in demand for classics like beef bourguignon and duck à l’orange – the kind of food that makes you imagine you’re in the French countryside sipping a nice glass of wine – overlooking the hills and relaxing in a simpler time.
We saw customers ordering meals every week. We know people were struggling at that time – with many people juggling work and home childcare – and we were proud that we were able to support people by making it a little easier for them. Our take-out offers were popular so we have continued to offer them even now.
What are some of the “outside the box” ways you have tried to reach/attract customers during this difficult time?
With many people stuck at home, but catching up with friends via text, voice calls and Zoom, we’ve seen word of mouth really pick up speed. We also experimented with text messaging.
Now that COVID restrictions are starting to ease, what do you think of the future of your business?
I was born in the 1940s, so I kind of missed “The Roaring 20” – but I feel like we’re ready for another round, a century later. Every day feels like a party. When I talk to customers, many of whom haven’t been to restaurants all year, they feel like they’re waking up again.
At Le Lyonnais, our vision has always been to create environments where communities can come together side by side with friends, family or colleagues in a beautiful place, share a meal and come away remembering what is important. For us, it was very nice to see everyone again in person.
Chef and husband Gérard and I are in our 50th year at Le Lyonnais, and so happy that we are coming to the end of our restaurant careers, we can celebrate in person with our customers, colleagues and friends. We said this time felt like a “victory lap” for us.
Editor’s note: With the property and company officially accepting offers to purchase, the couple created a special menu called “The Victory Lap.” Reservations are available by phone at 978-263-9068. To see the menu, click here.