Revamped Mille Fleurs restaurant reopens June 2

Mille Fleurs has been in Rancho Santa Fe for more than 30 years.

After closing because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Rancho Santa Fe restaurant Mille Fleurs will reopen June 2 with a new menu to go along with its new brasserie identity.

Long known as one of the top local fine dining establishments, Mille Fleurs will now feature a menu with prices mostly under $30, including appetizers under $20. Its owner, Bertrand Hug, said the new format will be more casual and family-friendly, while maintaining the restaurant’s more elegant ambiance.

“I don’t want people to think that the quality of the food is not going to be there, because we’re still going to buy the freshest and the most local and best product possible, but I’m no longer going to go after the major culinary awards,” Hug said.

In the immediate aftermath of the business closures caused by the coronavirus, Hug laid off more than 200 employees who work at Mille Fleurs and Mr. A’s in downtown San Diego, which he also owns. He helped support his employees through a gift card program and by distributing free packages of produce to them for eight weeks.

Hug said he reopened for takeout on May 1 to help get some of his employees back to work.

“The reason I’ve stayed open over the years is because I have a team that is amazing,” he said, adding that many of them have become like family over the years. “Most of the people have been there well over a dozen years.”

A staple in Rancho Santa Fe for more than 30 years, Mille Fleurs was one of the toughest places in town to get a table. But Hug said increased competition over the years and other factors led to a gradual decline in prominence. In recent years, he changed kitchen personnel and tweaked the menu to make it more modern. In March, when the government’s public health guidelines to combat the spread of COVID-19 went into effect, Hug said he wanted to change course, from fine dining to brasserie, to keep the restaurant viable.

“I decided that a change was the way to go,” he said.

Mille Fleurs will be open Tuesday through Sunday each week, and closed on Mondays. Hug said some things will remain the same, including the decor and the level of service, as he and his employees transition the place into more of a French bistro.

“The menu is going to reflect my attitude and my willingness to change into a brasserie,” he said.

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