Breaking News Bar
updated: 3/21/2014 6:18 PM

Mainstay French restaurant to close after 38 years in Lakemoor

Success - Article sent! close
  • Le Vichyssois French restaurant, which has operated for decades in an unlikely spot along Route 120 in Lakemoor, will close March 30.

       Le Vichyssois French restaurant, which has operated for decades in an unlikely spot along Route 120 in Lakemoor, will close March 30.
    Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

  • Head chef Bernard Cretier at Le Vichyssois in Lakemoor.

       Head chef Bernard Cretier at Le Vichyssois in Lakemoor.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, 2004


An unlikely outpost for French cuisine that thrived despite doubts is closing its doors after 38 years in the same spot.

Le Vichyssois, a destination for diners since 1976 along Route 120 in Lakemoor, will serve its last meal Sunday, March 30.

Order Reprint Print Article
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

"Most of them are crying," founder, owner and chef Bernard Cretier said of his patrons. "You would not believe it. We have customers who have been coming since the beginning."

Cretier, 67, said he is closing the restaurant because he is tired of the long hours. However, he'll keep a side business making sauces and demiglacé.

"Instead of working 16 hours a day, we'll only be working eight to 10," he said. He and his wife, Priscilla, live above the restaurant.

The name of the restaurant means a person from Vichy, Cretier's home base. But his path to the outskirts in McHenry County became a well-documented success.

While in the French Navy, Cretier served as the personal chef of General Billotte, who was the secretary of state, according to the restaurant website. He worked at Maxim's in Paris and then in Germany and Switzerland, before coming to the U.S. to serve six years as executive chef at Maxim's in Chicago, then one of the top French restaurants in the country.

But he became restless and began looking for a spot for his own place. His French country inn opened in Lakemoor in 1976.

"At the time, there was not too many locations in the suburbs," he said. "I liked the location, I liked the building and I found a banker who believed in me."

He said the location between Chicago, Milwaukee, Rockford and Lake Geneva was a key.

The building is located in what is considered Lakemoor's Main Street, an area the village has targeted for redevelopment. Just a few doors down, old office and commercial spaces are for sale or rent, and the former location of the village hall has been cleared.

Cretier says he will stay put for the time being, but will sell the building if an acceptable offer is tendered.

As for the food, Cretier was known by some as a genius with his sauces. Customer favorites are mushroom cigar in port wine sauce, galette of crab in curry sauce, roast duck in sherry vinegar sauce and sea scallops, he said.

"It's an unlikely place that lasted a long time. I'm the last of the dinosaurs for the kind of cooking we're doing," Cretier said. "We are very classical."

He said he hasn't planned anything special for the last night.

"It was a great run. I really appreciate all the customers who came to the restaurant," he said.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.