It’s no surprise Fabrice and Mairead Buschtetz have a business that endured a worldwide pandemic.
After all, by the time restaurants were closing in early 2020 for COVID-19, the Buschtetz family had already overcome so many economic and transitional challenges, they were well-prepared for another tough battle.
While the Buschetz family ended up losing one business and selling another, they kept going with Cuisine & Wine Bistro of Chandler, a French steakhouse and their second establishment in the U.S. They were also able to open and sustain a new eatery in Gilbert.
While the setbacks have, not surprisingly, been a tough financial hit for the family and a reason to be more cautious going forward, the Buschtetz’s Chandler restaurant continues to bring in awards and gain new customers.
“We lost a lot,” Mairead said. “I wouldn’t say we emerged through COVID with flying colors. But we’re here. And my husband still has the same passion for cooking he had the day I met him. We know our customers — and they know us.”
The Buschtetz’s Gilbert restaurant, Copper and Logs, opened at Warner and Greenfield roads in early 2019. The more-diverse, pizza-menu-based gastropub is still going strong. Frenchie Pizza, which opened in July 2021 in the Crossroads Towne Center on the southeast corner of Gilbert and Loop 202 in south Gilbert, only lasted about one year due largely to insufficient staffing.
There are five Buschtetz family members in the family’s East Valley restaurant presence. Fabrice Buschtetz is the master chef, with Mairead as the general manager.
One of their sons, Killian, is a certified sommelier, or manager of wines, of which there are more than 280 available at any time. Killian’s wife, Monica, manages the dining room. The couple run the front half of Cuisine & Wine Bistro.
Steven, their other son, is trained in the kitchen. Their daughter, Laura, manages Copper and Logs. Steven’s wife, Clementine, is a software engineer who runs the family’s restaurant websites and social media.
“It’s kind of in their DNA,” Mairead says. “My children were literally raised in the kitchen.”
Mairead met Fabrice shortly as he was finishing up his culinary training in Europe in the late 1980s, when they were both young adults. When Steven was an infant, with no money for a nanny, he was kept in a basket in the kitchen.
The couple moved to the U.S. in 2013 after a vacation the year before had taken them to the Southwest. They bought the former MWC Bistro in Gilbert in March 2015 for the site of their first Arizona place.
Mairead said Fabrice’s sauces are one of the main parts of the brand’s success and what continues to earn Fabrice the most compliments. However, she said, it’s overall mastery and balance of the whole bistro experience — entrées, appetizers, soups, steaks, wine, etc. — that really help a French establishment maintain a loyal customer base.
“My husband is amazing,” Mairead said. “He wakes up in the morning knowing what specials he wants to put into place that day.”
New Bedford scallops, served with a zucchini risotto, were one item recently promoted on Cuisine & Bistro’s social media.
Fabrice’s parents and grandparents had owned restaurants, so he was “born into it,” Mairead said. There are very few authentic French-based restaurants in the Valley. Authenticity is critical.
“We had to earn the trust of both French people or those who’ve been to France and eaten there, and newcomers who bring all their biases from other cultures but want to experience French food the best they can,” she said.
The Chandler bistro is open only five nights per week, minimizing strain on the six front employees and five who work in the back. Mairead said tables are booked about one month out.
Fresh ingredients are important, no matter the bottlenecks put in place by recent world supply-chain problems. Cuisine & Wine Bistro continues to rake in awards, honors and solid reviews from industry critic organizations such as Wine Spectator and OpenTable.
While emerging from the setbacks of COVID is challenging, Mairead said, the family business is definitely on a slow ascension now, both on paper and in momentum.
“We really believe America is the land of opportunity,” Mairead said. “If you pour your heart and soul into honest work, it will lead to some level of success.”
Cuisine & Wine Bistro is located at 4991 S. Alma School Road, Suite 101. The south Chandler restaurant is located in a center on the southeast corner of Alma School and Chandler Heights roads. Book a table through cuisineandwinebistro.com or by calling 480-275-6700.
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Jason W. Brooks is an associate editor for the Daily independent.
He covers the Buckeye area and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. Brooks is a well-traveled journalist who has documented life in small American communities in nearly all its time zones. Born in Washington, D.C., and raised there and in suburban Los Angeles, he has covered community news in California, New Mexico, Arkansas, Iowa, and Nebraska.