She also had some concerns about the safety of her staff.
“People didn’t want to wear masks, but my staff wanted to be safe and wear masks. In two years, only two staff members were sick with COVID, so we did well keeping everyone safe.” Brasure was also concerned for the safety of her mother, who at 83 years old was still working in the bakery at Bleu Door.
In March 2020, Brasure heard that the owner of the building next door was selling the space. “My heart sunk to the ground,” said Brasure, “but then the owner said, ‘I’m selling to you, silly girl.’ ”
Construction began in February of 2021 on the expansion of Bleu Door into the building next to it.
“Opening the first space was a challenge,” Brasure said. “The second space was fun.” This time around, she felt more confident in choosing a contractor and managing the renovation. She also enlisted Elida Field of Elida Art Studio & Gallery to create paintings of lavender fields on the windows between the two spaces. When Field saw the new dining room, she told Brasure that the side wall needed something bold and beautiful.
“Elida said you need a mural, you need your sunflowers,” said Brasure.
Bleu Door’s reopening has been a mixed bag. “It’s like a brand new restaurant opening up,” said Brasure. Weekday breakfast and lunch and Sunday brunch are slow, but Saturday brunch has consistently been busy. Brasure said that there still aren’t many people downtown during the week for breakfast and lunch.
In addition, supply and staffing issues continue to affect the restaurant industry.
“Cost of goods is horrible for every restaurant, and getting supplies is difficult,” said Brasure. For example, butter used to be $96 for 55 pounds; now it’s $210. Sugar is sometimes unavailable. Brasure tried to get corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day, but couldn’t source it in time for the mid-March holiday.
Finding staff to reopen the restaurant has also been hard. “Every restaurant is short-staffed,” said Brasure, “and with high cost of food it’s hard to pay staff,” she said.
Despite all these challenges, Brasure has her eyes on the future. She will expand Bleu Door’s hours to Friday night starting this spring. The menu will be a three-course prix fixe meal ($50 per person) with a starter, entree (meat or vegetarian), and dessert as well as optional wine pairings for an additional cost.
“I want to pull out old classics like steak Diane, chicken Marsala, and Italian dishes like chicken Parmesan and ravioli,” she said.