L’Artisan owners, couple Rana and Ghassan, have been in the food business all their lives. From the family business of exporting food products, to their experiences running supermarkets and coffee spots in Montreal, they have personally witnessed the effects healthy, delicious, “artisanal” foods have created in others’ lives.
With their roots in Lebanon, and decades spent in Montreal, a French-Canadian city, Rana describes the cafe’s international influence as central to its concept; “L’Artisan has a European flare, we carry a lot of imported snacks and specialty foods, and serve an Italian coffee brand, ILLY.” It's the type of Cafe one would expect to find off La Rambla in Barcelona or tucked inside the 6th arrondissement of Paris.
“Having spent most of your lives in foreign, cosmopolitan areas, what brought you and your love of food to Providence, Rhode Island?” we asked.
Rana explains that she and her husband both went to school in the New England area. They were charmed by Providence and also found “it lacked a scene with fresh grab-and-go foods for both people who are in a hurry and people who want to lounge and relax.” Walking through the cafe’s doors, this is just what we find: a line of grab-and-goers, but also all sorts of people reading newspapers, chatting with friends, writing novels, etc.
Though opening in Providence did not come without its difficulties. For one, it was challenging to find the fresh and ready products they were looking for. When L’Artisan first opened in 2009 their family was still settled in Canada causing Ghassan to travel back and forth. “We only moved here to Providence with our three sons five years ago,” Rana tells us. Despite these difficulties, they have successfully become one of the most loved cafes in Rhode Island.
Of course, the attraction of L’Artisan is not only in its concept, but in its execution. They offer mouth-watering, organic house-made foods like Lebanese pies, Grape leaves, and Caprese paninis. Rana reveals, “the secret ingredients in our recipes are olive oil and lemon juice.” Many of their recipes are vegetarian and vegan-friendly too: “we try to be aware of food-restrictions and allergies. Our recipes are timeless but we do consider current health trends.”
Along with their house-made foods, L’Artisan is known for carrying an alluring selection of imported foods. “These are not your regular grocery-aisle snacks,” Rana explains, “in place of ordinary cookies and candy bars we sell Marzipan, Bufala mozzarella, and Belgian chocolates.”
This leads us to wonder, “so why did you choose to carry Rip Van Wafels?”
“Well first of all, the stroopwafels pair nicely with our coffee and espresso drinks. And like the other foods we carry, the Rip Van Wafel is something special; something memorable.”
“It's similar to the cafe, no? European in concept, but low in sugar and easy for the on-the-go American.”
Be sure to visit L’Artisan Cafe if you are ever in the Providence, Rhode Island area. They have a second location that just opened at Bryant and a third opening near Riverhouse.