‘It felt right:’ Café Provence owners open American restaurant Verbena at Meadowbrook during COVID-19

More than a year-and-a-half ago, Patrick and Joanne Quillec, owners of the Village Shops’ Café Provence and The French Market, were asked to move Café Provence to a new location

More than a year-and-a-half ago, Patrick and Joanne Quillec, owners of the Village Shops’ Café Provence and The French Market, were asked to move Café Provence to a new location a few miles south, at Prairie Village’s Meadowbrook development. The couple knew they didn’t want to move the French restaurant, and instead decided to showcase the American side of their family with a new restaurant: Verbena.

The Quillecs last week officially opened Verbena, 4901 Meadowbrook Parkway, with a specific focus on east coast cuisine to reflect Joanne’s Philadelphia roots. It has been the toughest opening the family has ever experienced, Joanne said: With COVID-19 looming overhead, there are many difficult decisions that need to be made and the restaurant is open at 50% occupancy to comply with social distancing guidelines. Still, the community response in just one week has been positive, she said.

“We understand there are people who are not ready to come out and dine in restaurants, but there are people who are so excited and delighted to be able to come out to a restaurant and have a wonderful meal,” Joanne said. “It’s been very exciting.”

The Quillecs are taking extra safety measures at Verbena due to COVID-19, which has made the restaurant’s opening the toughest one yet, Joanne said. Photo credit Anna Petrow.

In addition to capping the restaurant’s capacity and keeping six feet of distance between tables, Verbena employees are wearing masks for the safety of customers and going above and beyond to sanitize menus, tables and other surfaces regularly, Patrick said. There are also sanitizers located throughout the restaurant for customers to use when they enter and leave the establishment, he said.

Verbena is currently open for dinner only, and is holding off on serving lunch for another couple of weeks, Joanne said. Although the Quillecs didn’t have any plans to open another place after The French Market, Patrick said “it felt right” to pursue The Market at Meadowbrook and Verbena.

“We’ve been asked many times for other projects to do something like that, and Joanne and I look at the opportunity, but [they] just didn’t feel right,” Patrick said. “This one here felt right.”

Verbena’s current menu offers a strawberry tart, with vanilla bean pastry cream, rhubarb jam and strawberry bark. Photo credit Anna Petrow.

Reservations are not required to dine at Verbena, but are highly encouraged for the time being due to capacity limits. To make a reservation, call (913) 329-7800. The Quillecs opened the restaurant on a smaller menu due to the pandemic, and Patrick said it will be changing soon — though it will likely include the shallot tart still, a current customer favorite, he said. To view the current menu, visit Verbena’s website here.