Rene the Butcher

My favorite place for lunch ever, of all time, was Rene’s butcher shop in Bellevue. Rene grew up playing rugby in the Basque country, but had been on St. Martin for a long time by the time I first had lunch there.

It was a butcher shop, but also mostly a lunch place. I heard it was once just a butcher shop and he would cook lunch for himself and maybe some friends and it took off from there. Who knows the truth? We asked him once how he made such delicious potatoes and he told us the potatoes were flown over by plane from France in bags filled with the dirt they were grown in. The real secret was probably duck fat.

We ate lunch there as much as possible whenever we visited and became friends. In February of 2009 we had the first Tacousteau (a party featuring tacos and the films of Cousteau) and Rene was there. We had written something about his butcher shop on our website and we showed it to him. He thought it was amazing that we had this on our computer and we had to explain it was on every computer. He had heard of the internet, but had never seen it. Someone asked him what songs he liked when he was young and pulled one up on YouTube. Rene was amazed and overcome with tearful nostalgia. I think this was the last time I saw someone discover the internet.

We moved to St. Martin in November of 2009. Rene had sold the butcher shop because of health problems, but was still there sometimes. Before long he wasn’t there anymore and the shop was closed. We asked around, but we haven’t seen him again.

-Mark Yokoyama, March 28, 2020