Chef Billy Allin is stepping away from his Inman Quarter French cafe Bread and Butterfly after eight years. But instead of closing the restaurant, Allin handed the reins over to Brandon Blanchard and chef Demetrius Brown of Caribbean and Afro-American pop-up Heritage Supper Club.
Allin’s departure from his remaining restaurant has likely been in the cards since he and wife Kristin closed their popular Decatur restaurant Cakes and Ale in 2018, followed by Inman Park bakery Proof in 2021 (home to the Daily). The closures were meant to free up the couple to spend more time together and pursue other interests. Allin confirmed the change of ownership but declined to comment on what exactly led to the decision to sell Bread and Butterfly to Blanchard and Brown.
The transfer of ownership of Bread and Butterfly was so low-key, in fact, most people probably didn’t notice it had taken place. The only indication of the change is seen at the bottom of the restaurant’s website, where Blanchard and Brown are now listed as the owners of Bread and Butterfly. Other than that, it’s business as usual at the Inman Quarter restaurant.
Blanchard and Brown aren’t changing the name or much of the breakfast and lunch menu. However, people can expect dinner service to begin later this fall, and it will include some of Brown’s dishes served at Heritage Supper Club, which explores the foods of the African diaspora.
Blanchard and Brown met while working at the Hill at Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, south of Atlanta. Their paths crossed again a few years later when both were involved in the ownership changeover at the Pinewood in Decatur. When the pandemic hit in 2020, the Pinewood closed. Brown was out of a job and took the opportunity to found Heritage Supper Club. Blanchard, a 30-year veteran of the restaurant industry, says he instantly recognized Brown’s culinary talents when he first applied for the executive sous chef position at the Hill at Serenbe.
“I knew we had something special on our hands with Demetrius then. I remember thinking, ‘he’s not going to be here long because he’s way too talented for us’,” Blanchard says of how their friendship and eventual restaurant partnership began. “We had a great rapport and great relationship from the start.”
When Brown decided in 2022 it was time to finally pursue opening his pop-up as a restaurant, he reached out to Blanchard to partner in Heritage Supper Club. The duo ramped up their pop-up dinners around Atlanta to help build brand recognition for Brown and Heritage Supper Club, including landing a residency in the evenings at Bread and Butterfly earlier this year. Within a couple of weeks, Allin approached the partners about selling the restaurant to them. Allin wanted Bread and Butterfly to go to people who cared about the restaurant, and not just to the highest bidder.
The plan is to keep things pretty status quo at Bread and Butterfly for the next several weeks and slowly implement changes to service, which includes adding dinner to the lineup and sprinkling in some of Brown’s signature dishes from the supper club during lunch. But the core dishes at Bread and Butterfly are staying put.
Dinner will see Brown leaning into the African diaspora, where he will focus on serving dishes heavily influenced by French cuisine due to the colonization by France of African nations and the Caribbean over the centuries.
“Being a French cafe, we want to try and bridge the gap as much as possible, so we plan to focus on French cuisine in the diaspora from countries like Haiti, Jamaica, Senegal, Congo, and Niger,” Brown says, whose family roots lie in the Caribbean and the island of Trinidad. “I always try to find symbolism in something, so to me ‘bread’ essentially means the food, while ‘butterfly’ represents the French influence moving through these different countries within the African diaspora.”
Brown points to the breadth and depth of foods in the African diaspora. People may not realize how much the foods of the African continent and the nations of the Caribbean have touched nearly every part of the world, whether by force or by choice.
For Bread and Butterfly, the French influences of the diaspora are seen in dishes like his Haitian beef patty encased in puff pastry. The patty contains finely ground beef mixed with herbs like parsley, cilantro, and thyme infused with Scotch bonnet and epis (an herbaceous and aromatic Haitian seasoning blend.) For the snapper escovitch (the national dish of Jamaica,) Brown crisps the fish scales, often done in Asian cooking. The snapper sits on a bed of grits with sauteed onions and peppers laced with a bit of vinegar, which the chef says draws in Jamaican flavors. The result is a snapper escovitch that incorporates culinary influences of the American South, the Caribbean, and Asia.
“It’s hard to really put a label on this food, other than African diaspora. I keep telling myself that at Bread and Butterfly, we’re looking at French food through the African lens,” Brown says.
Over the next few weeks, Brown and Blanchard want to focus on making the staff comfortable with the ownership transition. Diners can still expect French pastries daily from St. Germain Bakery, bowls of hot tomato soup crowned with delicate puff pastry, and other French cafe fare for which Bread and Butterfly has become known for serving since opening in 2015. Brown will introduce new dishes, too, while also respecting the established reputation of the restaurant Allin built at Inman Quarter for nearly a decade.
“We are very grateful to Billy for this opportunity. It’s something we never expected. It’s important we get things right,” Blanchard says. “We want to create an environment where everyone feels connected to something bigger than themselves. That’s where the name [Bread and Butterfly] lends itself to what we’re doing here, because we hope to bridge gaps and connect heritages through food.”
Look for Brown to host Heritage Supper Club events quarterly at Bread and Butterfly, along with a future chefs series called “A Tale of Two Chefs”, where he cooks alongside another Atlanta chef. On the days and nights the restaurant is closed, Brown and Blanchard are open to hosting pop-ups, especially given the support they’ve received since the founding of Heritage Supper Club three years ago. And the pair are scouting locations around Atlanta to eventually open Heritage Supper Club as its own restaurant in the next year.
Open Tuesday - Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dinner begins in the coming weeks.