The saying “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone” could certainly apply to fans of Café Panache.

Closed in May because of staffing issues, the European-style restaurant at 931 Russell Drive, North Cornwall Township, reopened June 20.

In the interim, “you could not believe the messages” she was getting from café patrons, owner Denise Bollard told LebTown. “It was kind of endearing.”

She originally planned to rent the space out to Gabby’s Italian Bistro, but that fell through because township zoning didn’t allow a standalone restaurant there.

Café Panache does light fare – breakfast and lunch.

Thomas J. Long Sr., North Cornwall Township manager, said in an email to LebTown that the zoning was changed in 2015 to allow permitted uses, such as office complexes and health centers in the township’s Office & Institutional District, to have a small coffee shop/cafe within their facility for their employees and patrons.

Café Panache is next door to Bollard’s real estate office, Re/Max Cornerstone, which Bollard also owns.

“It was never permitted to be a stand-alone food establishment,” Long said, which Gabby’s would have been.

After the bistro rental was nixed, everything just kind of worked out, Bollard said.

She decided to bring back her eatery, encouraged by all the support from customers who missed Café Panache.

Bollard announced the reopening on Facebook. “Yay! I love Panache!” wrote one poster. “Seriously? Awesome news!” said another.

Business picked up pretty quickly, building over the course of the first week, Bollard said. “It was so nice to see everyone.”

With familiar faces coming back, “it’s like a little reunion.”

The restaurant is so busy now, Bollard said, she is helping out in the kitchen.

The new chef is Angel Romero, who has a lot of experience, she said. “He’s good, his food is good, he’s passionate about what he’s doing.”

And he’s a fast learner, Bollard said. “We’re happy to have him.”

Café Panache’s menu will remain, including a lunch special, a soup du jour and a pizza du jour every week.

The menu features a variety of breakfast selections, from muffins and croissants to Baked Stuffed French Toast and Croque Monsieur (grilled ham and gruyere topped with bechamel).

Lunch fare includes brick oven pizzas (Smokin’ Margherita, Mushroom Medley, Dancing Goat, etc.), sandwiches (French Roti, for example, a version of French dip) salads, soups and quiches. Beverage-wise, a variety of coffees and specialty teas are available, along with Boylan’s soda, made with pure sugar cane.

In October 2021, LebTown published a review of the establishment by the Lebanon Valley Food Critics.

“Our take: Café Panache offers a simple and elegant breakfast menu and coffee drinks,” it concluded. “They take pride in the presentation of the dishes. The warm, inviting interior design is a plus for the diners. The food itself is fresh and well crafted.”

Bollard described her eatery, which first opened in October 2015, as “sort of European with a French flair.”

Everything is made in house, she said. “Nothing is canned or frozen. We try to buy locally produced” items and use ones that are in season.

Bollard said Café Panache is a “small, quaint” enterprise, with a handful of employees.

It’s open 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.

For lunch, there’s not like anything it in Lebanon, she said. And the breakfast crowd can get very busy on a Saturday, too.

“It’s a nice little spot,” said Bollard.

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Paula Wolf worked for 31 years as a general assignment reporter, sports columnist, and editorial writer for LNP Media. A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, she is a lifetime resident of Lancaster County.