A combined history of 70 years in the restaurant industry has come together to create a new place for French fine dining in the city.
Petite Violette on Brookhaven’s Clairmont Road is the merging of two French restaurants that were named Petite Auberge and Violette. The owners, city officials and the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce celebrated with a May 5 grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony.
Owners of the restaurant are brothers Anthony and Michael Gropp. Anthony is the chef while Michael handles most of the management and business side of things. The story of their home on Clairmont Road is a bittersweet one.
Petite Auberge was located in Toco Hills for 42 years, building a loyal clientele. But when the Gropps got a new landowner late last year, they were forced to find a new location.
“They are a big company with different ideas … and it was no longer feasible for us to stay there,” Michael said. “We were desperate and almost magically this space appeared.”
Stephanie Belcher, owner of Violette, which operated on Clairmont Road for 28 years, had become ill and was ready to sell her building. She contacted “the boys,” as she came to know the Gropp brothers over the years, and the restaurants merged early this year.
Belcher died in April and so while the story is a happy one, there is a sad part of it, too, Michael said.
“We had talked years ago and she always promised when she was ready to sell, we would be first offer,” Michael said. “She called us ‘the boys’ and was really happy when we took over – rather than start over, we essentially merged, and even kept the favorite items from both menus.”
Georgia Coclin, 82, went to the Toco Hills location consistently for 42 years, she said, to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, baptisms and other milestones. On May 5, she was at the restaurant in honor of her husband, who had recently died.
“He always liked to come here, so we had our luncheon here after the funeral,” she said.
She is happy to follow the brothers to Brookhaven even though traffic is a bit worse, she said. “They’re still worth it. The food is wonderful, the service is wonderful,” she said.
Anthony acknowledged it was a bit sad to be forced to find a new home after 42 years in the same spot. He said he literally grew up at the restaurant where he learned to cook from his father, Wolfgang Gropp, who opened the restaurant in 1974.
“Even though we were family there, it’s still just a building,” he said. “Now we’ve moved that entity over here.”
Petite Violette is located at 2948 Clairmont Road in Brookhaven. For more information, call 404-634-6268 or see petitevioletterestaurant.com.