Our Location

From the exterior, Caffé REL might seem like just another gas station restaurant. However, a small sign reads, “It’s about the food,” offering a tantalizing hint of what lies within. Unbeknownst to passersby, this unassuming eatery is the top-rated restaurant on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Facebook in the area.

How did a fine-dining French Bistro end up in a gas station?

Pursuing A Dream

Caffé REL may not catch your eye at first glance. Nestled within a modest, gray building shared with a nearby convenience store, this unassuming gem hides just beyond the gas station pumps. You won’t find a waiting area or the option to make reservations here, which might lead you to wonder, “What’s the story behind this location?”

The mastermind behind the café’s French-inspired culinary creations is Founder Chef Richard E. Long (the REL of Caffé REL), a seasoned chef with classical training and a rich learning history from European culinary mentors. When he opened the doors in 2004, Chef Long’s vision for Caffé REL went beyond the surface. He wanted to create an opportunity to bring exquisite cuisine within reach of all Americans.

Chef Richard’s journey to the unlikely gas station location is a testament to his extraordinary career. With nearly 50 years of experience, his résumé is filled with prestigious stints managing kitchens in five-star hotels, restaurants, and private clubs. He began his culinary adventure under the guidance of Chef Otto Indemauer III at the Hershey Resort in Pennsylvania. After seven years of honing his skills, he completed his training at the exclusive culinary program of the Greenbrier Resort.

Chef Long’s dedication to his craft led him to Le Cordon Bleu, where he continued to refine his culinary expertise. As a member of the Greenbrier team, he had the privilege of cooking for political figures such as Secretary of State Alexander Haig and even the Iranian hostages upon their return home in 1981.

With an illustrious career behind him, Chef Richard E. Long made a bold decision in 2003. After more than three decades in the industry, he left behind a six-figure salary and a prestigious position to pursue his dream of opening his own restaurant, which he did the following year. His choice of location was deliberate: he selected the vacant restaurant space within the local Hot Spot, a decision made specifically because of the fact that it was the polar opposite of his previous endeavors.

From the exterior, Caffé REL might seem like just another gas station restaurant. However, a small sign reads, “It’s about the food,” offering a tantalizing hint of what lies within. Unbeknownst to passersby, this unassuming eatery is the top-rated restaurant on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Facebook in the area.

What Our Customers Are Saying

Excellent
Based on 1268 reviews
Arctic Ghost
Arctic Ghost
September 17, 2023
I would give them 10 stars if I could. I admin a local foodie group here in Franklin and today was our day to go to Caffe Rel and all I've gotta say is OMG everything that I had or saw come out was amazing. Everyone in the group loved what they had. Big thanks again to everyone at Caffe Rel. If you're coming to visit Franklin I highly recommend you stop in.
Jackie Simms
Jackie Simms
September 13, 2023
I haven't been in several years but I love this restaurant and I'm planning to go again soon!
Christina Sancken
Christina Sancken
September 7, 2023
Delicious food, attentive staff. Will return and recommend to anyone traveling through Franklin!
Mixed up Outdoor Adventures
Mixed up Outdoor Adventures
September 5, 2023
This is by far the best good in Franklin. Well planned and prepared. Delicious.

Visit Today

Get IN touch

cafferel23@gmail.com

(828) 369-9446

459 East Main Street
Franklin, NC 28734

Visit Us

Great Food in a Gas Station
We are located next to the Hot Spot Gas Station

OPEN Wednesday-Saturday

11am-8pm

 

OPEN Wednesday-Saturday 11am-8pm