Kevin Lentz of French Grocery on Making Good Food Acessible And "Paella-laya"
Lauren Saria Kevin Lentz of French Grocery
This week we sit down with Kevin Lentz, owner of French Grocery in Phoenix. The market, which opened this summer, offers a friendly neighborhood spot to get everything from gelato to French press coffee -- roasted locally in Tempe. Today Lentz, a Southern boy who spent most of his adult life in New Orleans, tells us about how he got the idea to open a French-Creole grocery and gives the scoop on where you have to eat when you make it to the Big Easy. Don't forget to come back tomorrow for the second part of the interview, in which Lentz spills the beans on how he got started in the biz and his not-so-secret passion for Old World wines.
Food lovers, if you've ever dreamed about quitting your day job to indulge your passion by owning a little, neighborhood spot where the community would gather over good food, drink and company, know now that Kevin Lentz is living that dream.
Lauren Saria Inside French Grocery
Sure, he didn't set out to open this grab-and-go market that's part grocery store part neighborhood coffeehouse and bakery, but that's just the direction in which things have been developing. At Phoenix's French Grocery you'll find a selection of pre-cooked meals - Creole comfort foods like beef bourguignon, shrimp etoufee and red beans and rice - as well a few hard-to-find grocery items, a nice selection of wines and freshly baked goods. The biggest hit so far, to Lentz's surprise, has been the macarons. They're selling up to 1,000 a week.
"We're becoming more of a bakery than I intended," Lentz says. "But I'm ok with that."
What he intended to be, or at least what he had always dreamed of owning, is something entirely different - though in a way, exactly what he has.