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Joyful Lunch

Article Published: Mar. 27 | Modified: Mar. 27
Joyful Lunch

Melissa and Gary Claude own Joy Bistro, which, in April, will begin serving lunch.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

This April, lunch will become a joyous occasion.

Starting next Tuesday, Gary and Melissa Claude, owners of Joy Bistro in Boone, are expanding their restaurant’s hours to welcome the lunch crowd.

Think blue crab and English cucumber cocktails, Italian spring rolls of fresh cheeses, herbs and prosciutto, and Prince Edward Island mussels steamed in roasted garlic white wine butter broth.

And that’s just for starters — literally. The lunch menu will feature a veritable garden of artisan salads and a savory bounty of gourmet sandwiches.

As always with Joy Bistro, the menu is flexible, as executive chef Melissa Claude leaps at the opportunity to utilize fresh, seasonal ingredients. She calls it a time-focused menu, as it places a strong emphasis on seasonal cuisine, preferably from local farms and purveyors.

With customers repeatedly asking if lunch would be an option, the Claudes decided to take the plunge. They scaled back their dinner menu, while introducing some “fun new things for spring,” namely lighter fare that still manages to be satisfyingly filling.

“I love writing enormous menus with many options, so I had to rein it in for lunch, which was hard for me,” Melissa said.

But well worth the effort, Gary Claude noted. Other notable dishes include his signature all-natural Bistro Burger, featuring a half-pound of grass-fed chuck, topped with applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, melted smoked gouda, spring mix and tomatoes, served alongside Joy Bistro’s fried fingerling potatoes.

Another dish is the Bistro Cluck-Cluck, which is pan-seared chicken breast, topped with applewood smoked bacon, melted jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and caramelized onions, finished with an avocado aioli on a toasted potato roll.

For lighter fare, there’s the Cashel Blue and strawberry salad, featuring fresh field greens tossed in onion thyme vinaigrette with candied bacon, fresh strawberries and Cashel Blue Cheese.

A sweet and savory corn muffin salad comes with crisp romaine tossed in homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, corn muffin croutons, black beans, chopped tomatoes, spring onions and fresh-roasted corn.

“I’m inspired by French cuisine, but we also make some Italian and American,” Melissa said.
“Anything that’s good,” Gary added.

“Which is nice when you own your own place,” Melissa said. “You can wake up in the morning and say, ‘I want to do this.’”

“We’re enjoying that freedom,” Gary said.

The couple met while attending college in Louisville, Ky. They moved to California, where Melissa attended culinary school at the Cordon Bleu in San Francisco. They later moved to Lake Tahoe, where they worked as consultants, helping an acquaintance open a brewery.

“But that certainly wasn’t fine dining, which is our background,” Gary said.

To find that, they had to look much further east, toward Boone. With family already in the High Country, the Claudes got word from Melissa’s father that The Bistro at New Market Center was for sale.

“I flew out here, looked at it and thought it was the perfect size for a small family to run,” Melissa said. “It felt like a good fit for us. I flew back to Tahoe, told Gary and then flew back.”

Upon assuming ownership of The Bistro in October 2010, the Claudes were determined to make it something of their own.

“This place has been here for 14 years,” Melissa said. “So, we changed the menus a little.”

“Actually, quite a bit,” Gary said. “I think we’ve definitely improved this place and put our stamp on it. That’s one of the reasons we changed the name. Melissa’s middle name is Joy, hence the ‘Joy’ in ‘Joy Bistro.’”

The Claudes have also expanded the restaurant’s offerings, serving wine dinners on the last Tuesday of every other month. These dinners feature a five-course meal, served alongside complementary (but not complimentary) wines. Joy Bistro also offers live jazz, courtesy of area guitar virtuoso Andy Page, on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Gary, a drummer, often sits in on the sets.
The lunch service is their latest foray into something new, and if all goes well, Sunday brunch could be on the horizon.

But first things first. As of April 1, lunch hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Dinner remains 5:30 p.m. to close Tuesday through Sunday.

Joy Bistro is located at 115 New Market Center in Boone. For more information, or reservations, call (828) 265-0500, email ( , or visit

Beat It

Got food news? Email editor Frank Ruggiero at ( , or call (828) 264-6397.

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