Metro-East Living

Popular Belleville restaurant is closing after 23 years of serving lunch

Waitress Kathy Mardirosian carries a tray of food in 2013 through the dining room at Rachel's Garden. The restaurant will close in April.
Waitress Kathy Mardirosian carries a tray of food in 2013 through the dining room at Rachel's Garden. The restaurant will close in April.

It started as a floral shop with gifts on the west end of town, then their business bloomed into one of the best places to have lunch in St. Clair County.

After 30 years of doing business in Belleville, Gladys Boisseau and her family will close their restaurant and gift shop, Rachel’s Garden, this spring.

Boisseau, 79, owns and operates the restaurant along with her husband, Don, daughter Pattie Walton and son-in-law Larry.

“It is with heavy hearts that we are closing the business on April 28th, 2018,” the family wrote in a statement. “Age, health and a desire to spend more time with family and friends have led us to this decision."

The restaurant at 3917 Frank Scott Parkway West will operate as normal until it's time to close, Boisseau said.

Their building is for sale, but for now the family wants to focus on saying goodbye to loyal customers, both old and new.

“Operating Rachel’s Garden has been a big part of our lives and we will dearly miss seeing our wonderful customers along with being a part of the Belleville community,” the family wrote in a farewell letter. "We will sincerely miss the relationships we have developed with our customers over the years and with our employees who have made our business a success.”

Countless luncheons, bridal showers, baby showers, anniversaries and birthdays were celebrated at the tearoom where Boisseau and daughter Pattie work side-by-side. They still pay attention to every detail, even the small things, in the tearoom named after Pattie’s first daughter.

Waitress Sarah Cable puts away a dessert tray at Rachel's Garden in 2013. Derik Holtmann

"The restaurant is named for Rachel," Pattie explained in 1996. "People asked me if I had her sign a release form. I said, 'Nooo."'

Back then, Rachel was a friendly a 2-year-old, who helped her mother and grandmother run the business. She grew up there. Her grandmother, Gladys, made a nursery for her at the first location on West Main Street in Belleville.

“That’s when I started running things” Rachel said playfully in 2016, when she wrote a timeline of the establishment's history.

She was 5 when the restaurant moved into its current location. Her grandfather, Don, remodeled the building. Seating in the dining area went from 50 to 130 after they moved.

"I use family recipes," Pattie said in 1996. "Our potato salad is a fourth-generation recipe from my great-grandmother. We make our own raspberry-vinaigrette dressing, which came from my grandmother. And we also make a wonderful creamy, tuna salad."

The same recipes are used today. But the family has grown and expanded.

Rachel grew up.

She went on to to serve and greet customers as a part-time employee while she attended O’Fallon Township High School and later Greenville College. Soon after graduating from college she married her college sweetheart. They now live in Indiana.

"This place will always have a special spot in my heart,” Rachel said before her departure in 2016. “Be sure to keep my family busy for me, it’s because of you that’s Rachel’s Garden has been so successful.”

Serving homemade soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts, the restaurant is open 11 a.m. till 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.