The aroma of freshly ground coffee beans fills the air as Tina Smith shakes grounds together, seeking the perfect medium between sour and sweet. Her husband, Chip, runs back and forth from the kitchen, readying pans for the night’s cuisine.
Preparing for the dinner rush is a typical afternoon for Bonne Soiree’s owners. But they’ll only have a few of these afternoons left in Chapel Hill.
The French restaurant — nominated for a top culinary award this month — will close April 30 after more than four years when the Smiths move back to New York to continue their culinary careers.
Tina Smith said she and her husband are looking for someone to take over the restaurant to continue its unique and warm character, but they haven’t found anyone interested yet.
“We still think it’s necessary for a college town to have a restaurant like this,” she said.
Tina Smith called New York City the epicenter of the food world, and she hopes to open a restaurant within about 18 months.
“The rents are steep in Chapel Hill, there’s a new landlord, and we miss New York very much,” she said.
The couple met in New York City while both working in the restaurant business. They plan to start a restaurant there because of bigger opportunities and sentimental value, though they don’t know exactly where or what kind, Tina Smith said.
If the restaurant doesn’t work out, she said she plans to do something with wine, and her husband would continue to work with food.