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3 questions with Monte Smith, restaurateur 

Monte Smith is a successful entrepreneur who has founded everything from restaurants to consulting firms. Smith was born in Galveston, Texas, but has spent most of his life in Latin America and traveling to different countries. Among his travels, he was captivated by the culture and simplicity of France. When he and his family moved to Charlotte 12 years ago, he found that he was homesick for many of the culinary experiences he had encountered. Two years ago, Smith opened Café Monte French Bakery and Bistro in the SouthPark area. To evoke the atmosphere of a true French eatery, he hired French-trained chefs to prepare the breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes. In doing so, Smith succeeded in bringing a bit of Paris to Charlotte.

Creative Loafing: What captivated you the most about Paris?

Monte Smith: "The city of lights" has such a strong appeal to those of us in the culinary world that the historical significance is undeniable. While having visited Paris before, I am planning to return this year to research and enjoy the culture. The classic techniques used in French cuisine are timeless and integrated into almost every element of modern cooking.

What occupies your time when you're not busy running your breakfast, lunch and dinner cafe?

I am blessed with an amazing family. Three beautiful children and a wife that's a saint -- we balance our time between soccer, swimming, music lessons, church and travel. We also dedicate time to giving back to the community. Currently, I have been fortunate to be involved with NEXUS, an organization dedicated to assisting individuals in transitioning back into society. I enjoy travel most of all.

Do you ever regret owning your own business in today's uncertain economy?

You never know what life or timing will bring -- we certainly did not expect to weather this storm in our first two years but are grateful it taught us how to manage in tough times.

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