Restaurant set to open at end of month

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Freshness – that’s the key ingredient in what one will find at Simone’s Café and Confectioners.

Owner Valerie Simone said Monday that Andalusia’s newest eating establishment isn’t the “fried, fast-food” kind. Instead, it’s a “cloth napkin kind” featuring green salads, fresh deli sandwiches and soon, scrumptious dinners.

Simone, a former senior professional executive in human resources, said she, her husband and 16-year-old son are Philadelphia natives. The family relocated to the area after Simone’s parents retired here.

“Years ago, they were driving through the area and a week later, they bought a house here,” she said. “One of their favorite movies is ‘Doc Hollywood,’ and Andalusia has that quaint feel to it. So, we followed them here. We wanted to start a new life, and I thought that a family restaurant would give me that family balance I was looking for. I thought that Andalusia would be a fit for that.”

Since then, Simone has been devoted to realizing her dream of opening a restaurant.

For months, locals have watched with interest as the outside of the stone-fronted, former home of Eleanor Butler was transformed. Butler bequeathed the building to the Andalusia Academy of Ballet, who sold the building to Simone. Now, bright white trim and landscaping is nearly ready to invite diners in to enjoy a sit-down meal.

Inside, the transformation continued as years of neglect were stripped, painted and reassembled into a quaint eating establishment that features a more formal seating area, as well as a bakery.

“What we’re doing – it’s not gourmet,” she said. “It’s good food. It’s not sandwich meat on bread. It’s oven-baked ham, sliced, or for the French dip, a roast in its own au jus sauce.

“On the bakery side, this is things you’d find in an old-fashioned diner,” she said. “Apple pie a la mode with ice cream, muffins, cupcakes – something that goes great with a good cup of coffee. Not any of those specialty items. Like I said, I am not a gourmet cook.”

An outbuilding was also constructed for those to enjoy their lunch outdoors.

Simone said a “soft opening” will be held either the last week of March or first week in April. Hours will be Tuesday through Saturday, with the bakery open from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. and lunch served from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Simone said dinner will be served “about four to six weeks after the soft opening” from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

“That’s to give us time to properly training our staff,” she said. “We want to provide a great experience with great food.”

Dinner selections will include steaks, broiled fish, Gulf shrimp and about 12 entrees and different specials.

The restaurant will employ between five to 10 people, she said.

“Everyone here, especially the people with the city’s building department, have been so wonderful to offer their help,” Simone said. “I can’t wait to get things going.”