Wilton is about to get a sweet, European-styled café, as Café Ruche opens next Monday, Dec. 22. On the menu is continental-style lighter fare, including salads, paninins and crêpes…and yoga.
That’s right, yoga is being served up in a low-impact exercise studio in a separate room in the back of the charming café up front. As owner Barbara Chopin (pictured above, right) says, “Exercise and eating are inextricably related. But they’re also separate–people can come here and exercise and never eat, and people can eat and never exercise.”
While the yoga studio won’t officially start offering classes until Jan. 5, Chopin is excited about what the café will be like, and she says she is admittedly aiming for a European feel. She and Annie Horn (pictured, left), who oversees marketing and health for Café Ruche, have put together a menu with healthy, creative dishes with a French flair.
“The café is going to offer fabulous salads, sandwiches, soups, sweet and savory crêpes. There will be vegan and vegetarian options, but we’re aiming for the sweet spot of the right portions and really good flavors. The salads and sandwiches will have interesting things in them. We’ll have imported cheeses and meats. We have a fabulous chef, coming to us from the Inn at Pound Ridge,” Chopin says.
The café will be open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. for breakfast and lunch, seven days a week; on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings they’ll be open until 10 p.m., adding small plates — Italian, French and Spanish antipastos, individual fondues, and great salads — plus a kids menu. They’ll have a full service coffee bar, teas, juices and smoothies, and will also offer grab-and-go options for their sandwiches, salads and more.
As for classes, Ruche will be offering several types of yoga classes–vinyasa, kundalini, hath a, mommy and me, and even a gentle, chair-based class. Teacher bios and class schedules are available on the Cafe Ruche website.
But what it seems Chopin was going after in merging the two was fostering a moderate, healthy approach to both food and physical activity, something she discovered when she took up yoga in 2013.
“You can have a really fun, wonderful life if you’re just moderate about stuff. The exercise that’s sustainable is not about beating yourself up on the street running marathons and pounding treadmills. A lot of people can do that, but especially as you get older your joints need something sustainable, to do into your seventies and eighties and feel really good about. It’s the same thing about food–people tend to be extremists: we super-size and then beat ourselves up at the gym for two hours. If you just do some yoga classes, eat the right portions of some healthy foods, that’s really a more sustainable lifestyle,” she says.
But Chopin is also trying to capture an element that she really believes is essential, especially given what the former corporate marketing and product management executive learned before starting the business.
“I did a lot of research into how people exercise and what kind of exercise sticks. Particularly for women, they like to have a social aspect to exercise. Women are more likely to run together, go to classes and do something after or before. I thought about that and the yoga community and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have a studio and a coffee shop?’”
It melded well with how she envisioned the café.
“All of that really works when you’ve got a community doing it together. Cafés in little towns in Europe are really the heart of the community. Everybody finds out who’s doing what and what’s happening in the neighborhood. We’re trying to do that comfortable place for people to come and enjoy themselves, talk to each other, do a little exercise, eat some wonderful food, drink a little wine…”
Oh, yeah, did we forget to mention that? Wine will also be on the menu at Café Ruche, too.
With everything coming together it feels a lot like a dream about to come true to Chopin, especially combining her professional and intellectual skills with what motivates her personally, physically and spiritually.
“When you’re working for someone else, it’s different. You do a good job but I’ve never been this passionate. Owning this and delivering this sort of service to the community is a great feeling, that people will come, relax, enjoy themselves, be healthy and maybe improve their quality of life,” she says.
Wilton was the perfect place to make that dream happen.
“I live in Weston, and Wilton is my go-to town. And I wanted to be in a community. Downtown Westport and New Canaan, you just feel like you’re on Main Street with all the other big box stores. Here I felt like I found a place for a proper café, not a store front. This has a sense of ‘home.’ It makes sense,” Chopin says.
Café Ruche is located at 101 Old Ridgefield Rd., in the shops near Marly’s and Subway.