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Life & Work with Barry Preuett

Today we’d like to introduce you to Barry Preuett.

Barry, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
The concept of Le Cafe Bleu started as a thought that my partner had one morning during our Thursday morning coffee dates. All of the places we liked to visit for coffee began closing down for one reason or another. She jokingly said, “We should start our own coffee shop and I could do all the pastries in-house.” We laughed and dismissed it but the following week, all we could talk about was how much fun it would be to open a little place. That continued for a few weeks and then we found ourselves actively looking for a spot that would work for our vision.

It took 18 months to find just the right spot, and during that time, what started out as just a coffee/pastry concept evolved into adding a cafe/bistro to the mix. I would run the food side of things and she would handle the pastries and the rest we would figure out along the way. Neither of us had any experience in the coffee/restaurant business but we fixed our eyes on the vision and went to work making it happen. Fast forward about two years from the initial idea and Le Cafe Bleu has become a reality for downtown Blue Springs. We have been overwhelmed at the positive support and feedback from the community and sometimes have to pinch ourselves that it actually happened.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
No road is ever smooth, and ours certainly had its share of potholes along the way, but those situations are the things that we can look back on now and laugh (usually… haha). I think one of the biggest struggles was the actual build-out of the space. Tammy and I did everything ourselves, from building the bar, framing the bathrooms, cutting the ceiling tiles, making some of the furniture, and all of the demo. Of course, we hired out electrical, plumbing, and HVAC because we couldn’t do that part of it ourselves, but if it was something we could do together, we tackled it together… sometimes knowing how to do it and sometimes not, haha.

Another struggle was figuring out our groove with respect to the business side of a restaurant. Inventory management, prep work, staffing, and the ten thousand little things we didn’t even think about. We are still learning and every day comes with new challenges and that’s one of the things we love about this kind of business.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
This question comes up a lot for both Tammy and myself. You see, neither of us had any experience in this industry. Tammy is a freelance writer and I was a Microbiologist/Molecular Biologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital for 25 years. My passion has always been cooking and I started teaching myself how to cook at 11 years old. I have since retired from Children’s Mercy after opening the Cafe as I couldn’t manage two full-time jobs. During my time there, I was known for solving problems and troubleshooting experimental designs. I was known as the go-to guy to fix experiments that weren’t working.

I am probably most proud of the work that I participated in that led to the discovery of a new anti-fungal drug. We’ve since patented the compound and I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment. I think my attention to detail, be it in the kitchen or in the lab, is one of my defining characteristics. Although, I sometimes get teased because I like everything to be as perfect as I can make it and sometimes that is a flaw, and sometimes a benefit, haha.

So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can they support you?
We offer a number of ways that people can collaborate with us. We are working on a few upcoming events with other local chefs for a collab dinner. We also offer our space for local businesses to host conferences or classes. We also offer in-house catering for wedding receptions, birthday parties, etc.

We are currently partnered with a number of local Blue Springs businesses to provide lunches for kids that need them during the summer months when the school lunch programs shut down. Some of our regulars come to the cafe to help pack lunches during our business hours. We also offer a free lunch program for anyone that may just need a meal. Our patrons have spearheaded this, providing dozens of meals prepaid for this purpose. We are always looking for ways to bring people together and support local.

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