HISTORY

 

The year was 1769. America was still under British rule and Napoléon Bonaparte was born in Corsica. Fast forward 190 years to the year 1959 in New York City where a tiny French restaurant named "La Gérbe D'Or" (the golden bushel of hay) shared the ground floor of 365 West 50th Street with a tailor. The both businesses made way to make the full size restaurant now known as Chez Napoléon in the summer of 1960

Quite interestingly, originally, the restaurant's name was not dubbed after France's Emperor, it was actually the descriptive nickname of the first owner, the father of the Despaux family. He was known as Napoléon due to his short stature and even shorter patience. The restaurant thrived due to their location behind the then Madison Square Garden and their faithful clientele-base from the United Nations and news publications from Sixth Avenue.

The Despaux family sold the restaurant ten years later, on Napoléon Bonaparte's Bicentennial year, 1969, to Yvette and her husband. Two years later, in 1971, a waitress named Jeanine de la Verrière joined the staff and quickly became head-waitress. 

 

In the early 80's, still under the ownership of Yvette, a waitress known as Elyane Bruno also joined the staff of Chez Napoléon. Soon Yvette wanted out of the restaurant business and put the restaurant up for sale in 1981. Elyane and the rest of the Bruno family jumped at the occasion to own this well established eatery and were declared the owners of Chez Napoléon Restaurant in 1982, and remain the owners to this day, a full 24 years as of January 2006

 

Since 1982 the neighborhood has changed immensely. What used to be the old Madison Square Garden was a huge block-long parking-lot for many years before transforming into what is now known as the Worldwide Plaza (a vast improvement), and what was once called Hell's Kitchen is now named Clinton. Ninth Avenue was once revered by some as a dangerous avenue, and now has been reinvented into a wonderful multi-ethnic strip of restaurants and shops. And there is Chez Napoléon, hardly unchanged for all those years; a staple of New York's Theater District, and proudly providing the most authentic French flavor and savoir-faire on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. 

 


THE FAMILY

   

Chef Grand-Mere

Marguerite Bruno


Marguerite is originally from Brittany in France. She met her future husband, Alfred Bruno, during World War II. After falling in love, she actually helped him escape from a Nazi worker camp and back over to friendly territory!

It was Marguerite's pioneering spirit that brought the entire family to America in 1975.

Elyane Bruno


Marguerite's only daughter, she was born in Grasse, France, the city of Perfume. Along with running the family restaurant, Elyane also completed her Masters at New York University for Social Working.

Elyane also plans to broaden the restaurant into a Specialty Foods company featuring her mother's secret recipes.

Guillaume


Elyane's only son, Guillaume (William in English) was only 3 years of age when he arrived to New York City from Nice, France. Having learned English in school, and French at home,

he has a Northern/New York accent in English and a Southern accent in French.

In the picture above he is giving his rendition of a smile. A very rare occurrence.

 

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