May 15, 2007
A French Take on Takeout

The drive-thru takeout lane at the Auburn branch of the In-N-Out burger chain is getting competition from another local culinary landmark. As unlikely as it may sound, Auburn's white-tablecloth Le Bilig French Cafe has added a drive-thru takeout lane to its small quarters along Atwood Road. Le Bilig is farther off Interstate 80 than In-N-Out, but that's where you have to go if you'd rather have takeout escargot, duck confit and creme brulee than a burger, fries and a shake.

Marc Deconinck, who with his wife Monica has owned and operated Le Bilig for 13 years, says takeout is the way to go these days for a restaurant to remain competitive with other food venues, especially grocery stores. "People want takeout," says Marc Deconinck. "They have less and less time to eat out, and they don't always want to spend $50 or $60 a head for fine dining."

The Deconincks have posted their ever-changing lunch and dinner takeout menus on their Web site and suggest that customers print it, mark what they want, specify a pick-up time, and fax the form back so the order will be ready when they want it. Customers also can just stop by on the spur of the moment to see what's available. The current menus include such items as roasted Provencal pork loin ($6), roasted duck leg ($10), ratatouille ($3) and chocolate gateau ($4).

Marc Deconinck says business has increased 30 percent since he introduced takeout dinners six months ago and added takeout lunches three months ago. He's now so busy that for the first time in the history of Le Bilig he's hired a cook to help him out in the kitchen.

"It's takeout, but it's a luxury version," Marc Deconinck says. He continues to prepare sit-down dinners at Le Bilig Wednesday through Saturday, and casual self-service lunches Tuesday through Friday. Takeout is available 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

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