Yann Bucaille Lanrezac is a dreamer. But before dreaming, he became a successful businessman in Brittany and in 2012, he bought a catamaran named Ephata. He used it to take autistic children and/or with drown syndrome for a day’s sail. Six thousand so far have been on the boat. One day, a young woman told him: “I don’t need a nice sail, I need a job”: and this is when he decided to open his first Joyeux coffee shop in Rennes, at the heart of Brittany. Today he is opening Joyeux Opera in Passage Choiseul (at corner of rue St Augustin) and he hired the hip young architect Léonie Alma Mason to do the decor. It is a very surprising and happy place!
While being interviewed by Europe 1 radio, Yann described his project with a great sense of humor. He opened in a trendy passage, half way between Bourse and Opera, in an area where young bankers and executives run around making money and forgetting about real life. With his young waiters and cooks, who are all mentally handicapped, he wants to attract the attention of these white collar workers and give them a new vision of otherness. Make them share their luck with less affluent people.
Everything is simple at Joyeux, and the floor pavement is very clever in white, yellow and black designs. Upstairs in the minuscule kitchen and dining room, it is in reverse with more black. The general theme is yellow and every employee wears a yellow shoe on one foot and a white one on the other. There are a few yellow neons to decorate the windows and simple round mirrors on the walls.
All tables and chairs are vintage and were recuperated from the former café. They were simply painted, cleaned and covered in grey skai with a black lining. Traditional bistro tables were made especially. To help the staff find their table (you order at the counter and they deliver), you are given a lego toy in green or blue or orange. And they are given the same lego, which they have to match with yours. So you see everything is playful at Joyeux.
Now what about the food? Well you have butternut lentil soup or squash or coco/curry and three kinds of quiche, a little salad, sandwiches and cheesecake or tarts or crumble. A choice of vegetarian dishes and gluten free desserts. The average bill is 12€ for a full meal. Teas come from Bentjeman and Barton, the best tea manufacturer in Paris, and juices are freshly squeezed. No alcohol is being served.
Mostly, the atmosphere is charming and jolly. There is a sense of sharing and everyone wants to help. All the profits will eventually go to associations for autistic and mentally handicapped children. Since the restaurant is just opening this week for Down syndrome day (on the 21st) no-one knows yet how it will evolve but after his experience in Rennes Yann is optimistic!
After decorating eco friendly Belle Epoque style luxury Hotel Castelbrac in Dinard for the Bucailles, Léonie Alma Mason has developed a sweet yellow theme at Joyeux Opera. Life can be fun and different and not automatically overpriced…
Joyeux is open Tuesday to Saturday and closes with Passage Choiseul at 8 pm. From Thursday 22, March onwards.
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