Lola’s Story

Café Lola is the “Love Child” of its owners, Henri and Ivanina Donneaux. “Love”, because a lot of love and devotion went into the restaurant’s creation and “Child”.well.because Lola has taken (as friends tell us) almost as much time, effort and sleepless nights as a baby would- and we love every minute of it!

“Who is Lola?” – people often ask? Lola is an inspiration, a muse, a mood and a dream.

We wanted to create a restaurant with a pulsating heart, a vivid soul, a true temperament- that is who Lola is, Lola, our inspiration. Were she a real woman, she would be an artist’s model, living in Montmartre at the turn of the century, perhaps.She would be the one in the red high- heeled shoes and with the wild hair. She would be the one that keeps men sleepless at night. A farmer’s daughter, who still dreams of the poppy fields at home, but has chosen to live among the artists and intellectuals in Paris…for now. She would entrance you silently, either gazing at you from a painting, or in person, when she challenges your mind with her opinions and her individuality. And if you ever saw her dance…So this is the dream.

And here are the facts (about us)

We have been dreaming of owning a restaurant for years. Our love of France, Provence, Paris, Food and Wine were what shaped the concept. We decided to do what we love most and hope that you’d feel it when you eat with us.

Henri is the Chef. He is from Liege, in the French-speaking part of Belgium .

After completing his culinary education at l’école Hôtelière in Namur, Belgium, he arrived in the United States and began his US career at La Panetière Restaurant in Rye, NY. The years that followed were spent pursuing excellence and excitement in the quest that is French Cuisine. A total of 15 years as the Executive Chef at Le Figaro Bistro in Greenwich, CT were dotted with periods spent in NYC, with David Bouley and in Paris , with Guy Savoy. The three years before Lola, he spent as the Executive Chef at The Field Club of Greenwich, CT.

Ivanina is mostly the dreamer, but also has spent the last 8 years working in the Wine and Spirits industry- as we like to joke with our friends “between us we have it all covered”.

Born and raised in Bulgaria , she traveled to Cyprus at 18 and spent the next eight years living on the island and working in the Fashion Industry. A move to Arizona in 2000 led her to return to her F&B roots and a career in wine and spirits sales. She left the Desert in 2003 and moved to Connecticut.

Ivanina and Henri first met at Figaro in the autumn of 2003, over a very cold glass of Cabernet Sauvignon at ten in the morning, but that is a story we only ever share in person. And now there is Lola. A beautiful thing happens (in our opinion) when two people who love each other decide to work together and end up loving that too. It is rare, we know, and possibly fleeting. But for now, it is happening- the dream is alive! We have made a cozy, whimsical place, where we hope to share our love for food, wine, conversation, music and all the small pleasures of everyday life.

We hope that you would come. Who knows, you may just fall in love.