When Madame Roqué’s Meat Emporium & Pickled Curiosités opens this summer on Main Street in Hendersonville, North Carolina, it will be a dining destination for the curious and worth the 45-minute trip from Greenville.
The new-to-market concept from the popular Never Blue tapas bar chef/owner Jesse Roque combines tarot cards, tattoos, and assemble-your-own plates of globally inspired meats and sides. Think a much more adventurous meat-n-three with a whole bar of pickled accompaniments and signature sauces and classed-up sideshow entertainment.
Roque, a tattooed, dreadlock-sporting mother of four, homeschools her two youngest while running Never Blue with her husband at 119 S. Main St. and is now opening another restaurant next door at 117 S. Main St. in Hendersonville’s growing downtown tourist scene. They’re shooting for mid- to late July.
She says she’s wanted to combine her love of tarot cards, tattoos, and good food for a while.
“Tarot is a huge part of my existence,” she says.
And she wants to demystify the practice by making it more accessible in a comfortable, nonthreatening environment.
“Food is the common table,” Roque says.
She’s found a lot of people who want to know more about it but are afraid to approach it. She references the entertainment value in tourist locations like New Orleans where card-reading on the street is a common activity.
“It’s fun when you’re on vacation,” she says.
As for the tattoo component, Roque explains she’s shy, and entering a tattoo parlor with a bunch of burly dudes who want to ink angry skulls all day is a daunting proposition.
The private tattoo studios at the back of the restaurant space will have viewing windows, but with privacy curtains for those who prefer they be drawn. The idea, though, is for friends to come in together and drink margaritas while watching tattoos happen on the other side of the glass.
The format will likely be a rotation of guest tattoo artists for a week at a time for variety and to provide more opportunities for guests and artists.
“I wanted to give a platform for people who didn’t have the means to open their own shop,” she says.
The layout of the remainder of the multicolored restaurant includes a private tarot-reading room and the counter-service food component in the front.
A variety of meats; hot and cold sides; and naan, bread, or tortillas will be available at steam tables. After building a plate, guests will move around to the salsa and condiment bar where they will find all the pickled curiosities to complete their dishes.
Margaritas, on the rocks and individually frozen (swirling large-batch machines mean the alcohol will be lost, Roque says), can be ordered at the rainbow-colored, glittery bar, and guests will seat themselves after closing their checks at the counter.
“The labor market is in a serious crisis,” Roque says. “We feel like this is our best option. I have four kids. In theory the six of us could run it.”
Follow @madameofmeat on Instagram for the opening announcement.