Delco Profile: Restaurateur and Brewery Owner Loïc Barnieu’s Love Affair with Media, Pa.

It’s Delco’s luck that chef, restaurant owner and brewery owner Loïc Barnieu made his way from Burgundy, France, to Media, Pa. His acclaimed establishments — all in Media — include authentic French La Belle Époque Wine Bistro, sports bar Tap 24 and craft beer destination Sterling Pig Brewery. Bonus: Two Fourteen is set to open in early 2022 on the site of shuttered Diego’s Cantina and Tequila Bar. More on that, later!

If you’re like us, you’re wondering how Barnieu manages to oversee soon-to-be-four hospitality industry hot spots! We sat down with him to find out.

We understand your first love was acting. Do you still tread the boards?

I’m known for portraying French patriot Marquis de Lafayette, and I did do a play the same year I opened Sterling Pig. But, my attention has turned since then to restaurants and the brewery. You never know, though.

How did you end up in the Delco area from France?

There’s a business school in France that featured a program with Temple University where students could do two years at Temple. I had a friend who enrolled, so I came to visit him. I met my now ex-wife who came from Media, so I moved to Media. I’m so glad I did!

Photo courtesy of La Belle Epoque

When did the cooking bug actually hit you?

I was friends with a French woman who owned a shop that served sandwiches, salads and coffee. I couldn’t speak English, so she had me work in the kitchen — at first. She really pushed me to learn English, and even pushed me out as a server. I basically started polishing my cooking and learning English there!

Also, cooking is in my blood. I never met them, but my one grandfather was a baker, and the other was a chef. It’s a family business, in a way. When I was 14, I would call my grandmother for recipes because I love sweets; I love to bake!

Photo courtesy of La Belle Epoque

When did you decide to open restaurants?

I would always go by the corner of W. State and S. Olive streets in Media and think, “That looks like a French bistro.” I got the idea that I’d like to open a bistro there. That became La Belle Epoque! I hired a chef, and it didn’t work out, so I stepped up and cooked. I’m self-taught, with assists from the sous chef and lots of cookbooks.

Cooking, to a great degree, is about your taste buds. If you have a good palate, you can adapt tastes to what they should be. You try your food, you change it.

Next, I opened Picasso Restaurant and Bar, which I had for about 10 years. It really closed because the concept had run its course. Now, Tap 24 has taken its place, a really fun sports bar.

I was also sad to close Diego’s Cantina and Tequila Bar — that was completely related to the pandemic. I had a very strong bar business and without that, Diego’s couldn’t make it. I’m happy to say Two Fourteen will offer modern American cuisine in a redone, up-to-date space that is really airy, light and trendy, with black, white and gold accents.

Photo courtesy of Sterling Pig Brewery

Why did you make the leap to a brewery?

I got into craft beer because we started carrying it at Picasso. This was a time when it was fairly new to the area. At first, being a wine person, I didn’t really like craft beer. Gradually, it grew on me, and I saw how incredibly dedicated craft beer drinkers are to their beers and their bars. I became one of them! I was also curious about brewing beer. I met my co-owner and brewmaster Brian McConnell … and the rest is history. We’re still growing, from four to 12 tanks now, and we opened the Sterling Pig Public House in West Chester in 2019.

I do have to say that as I was becoming a craft beer drinker, I saw Victory Brewing Company as a great example and influence. I liked what they were doing, their successes and their growth, since they were one of the first in the business. 

The big question: How do you do all of these things?

Growth comes in finding the right people, and having the right managers. That way, together, we can manage all of these properties. We’ve been through the hardest time in the restaurant business, thanks to the pandemic. Constantly changing rules, closings and re-openings… We survived.

Photo courtesy of Tap 24

We want to know: What’s your favorite thing to cook or bake?

I love to cook beef bourguignon. Every culture has its beef stew, and this is ours. It makes the kitchen smell amazing, and is such a great family dish. I cook it for six hours until the meat breaks down, and it’s simply delicious. [My favorite] to bake is an apple tart! It’s rustic, and sweet — and, I love sweets. It also makes the house smell amazing when I bake it.

What do you do in your precious spare time?

I spend time with my children Emma, Camille, Henry, Benjamin and Zélia. I also play in an over-40 soccer league at Rose Tree Media Soccer Club. We’re a competitive league, and are going to Florida in February (2022) for a tournament.

Anything else you’d like us to know?

I’m so happy to have found Media — I’m lucky to be in this town and live in this town. I love to walk around, get coffee and get to know people. I’m really blessed to be in this absolutely gorgeous area!

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Want to know more about everything Delco? We’re more than just your source for good eats — we’re your source for where to stay, what to do and more in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We’re Visit Delco, PA, and we’ve got you covered from Philly to the Brandywine. Contact us at (610) 565-3679, by email, or online.

Nina Malone

Featured photo courtesy of Loic Barnieu