A love affair with all things French, plus the experience of living on and off in Paris over a few years led Allen and Susan Tate to open the French Market Crêperie in 2008.
The story began with a wintertime apartment rental for the couple in 2005, Allen, a retired commercial real estate Broker and Susan, an artist, on the top floor of a building in the 7th arrondissement in Paris. Their travel in France and their romance led to an engagement atop the Eiffel tower on Christmas Eve in 2007, marriage in 2008 back in the states and a return to Europe for honeymoon and another stay in the beloved area of Paris where Hemingway wrote and the impressionist painted.
Living in a small flat in the St Germain area, off Rue de Rennes, the couple enjoyed the bistro/buvette at the corner of Rue de Bac in their neighborhood, where they had coffee & croissant in the morning, a final glass of wine in the evening and in between an omelet or tartine or crêpe. This was the place you ran into your neighbors, got to know the staff and enjoyed the habit or ritual of the day. It is known in Paris as your “local” or your “habitual”. Upon return to Knoxville they longed for a local bistro of their own with casual French food and drinks and European-style coffee.
The passion for a restaurant, completely different from anything in their hometown, led to the opening of The French Market on Gay street in the then up-and-coming-downtown Knoxville. They sourced a French flour manufacturer/supplier that would ship to the states, ordered the cast iron griddles & the rozells, (the little wooden crêpe spreaders) and taught themselves how to make crêpes and galettes, crispy buckwheat crêpes. The secret to their crêpes is using imported-flour from France to get that true & authentic flavor. The flour, both traditional and buckwheat is now imported bi-monthly by the ton! They sourced Lavazza coffee and espresso, the very popular & bestselling coffee in Europe with the famous blue and white cup.
The Tates brought a second Crêperie to west Knoxville in the Farragut area in 2014 and moved the downtown Crêperie to a larger space, with a mezzanine in April of 2017 on West Clinch avenue, a block away from the original location. Since opening in 2008, the couple has taken many trips to Europe to recapture and bring back some of their favorite flavors. Their travels are featured on the menu with the house favorite Parisian on buckwheat crêpe from Paris, Salted Caramel Crêpe from Brittany, Vegetarian Deluxe from Provence and the Dutch Crêpe from Amsterdam. You can trace their 2018 trip to French Canada with the Canadian breakfast crêpe featuring maple butter and the hot toddy menu downtown.
The 10-year journey has produced many crêpes and a legion of loyal customers. The restaurant and its staff have received numerous awards, being named “Top French Restaurant” in the city by the Knoxville News Sentinel for four years in a row from 2014 to 2018, one of the top 10 restaurants in the state by the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2017, “Certificate of Excellence” and “Hall of Fame” awards by Trip advisor, “People Love” awards by Yelp & recognition from Southern Living, USA today, NY Daily News, Denver Post, Delta Sky Miles Magazine & Culture Trip.
The love affair with France continues when the French Market opens daily at 8am, Sundays at 9am, serving Petit Dejeuner & Le Dejeuner (breakfast & lunch) every day with dinner service Tuesday through Saturday evenings. The Eiffel tower in the restaurant decoration is a romantic symbol with special meaning and the soft colors, light jazz and French music and photos are an homage and meant to evoke the French experience. We hope you will enjoy a little slice of France when visiting and “c’est possible” we will become your “local” or we hope “mon habitual” place to enjoy the ritual of your day.