Two Lafayette restaurants, both spinoffs of successful concepts that are still going strong, have shut their doors. Pinhook Road's Catahoula's Steakhouse served its last meal New Year's Eve, three days after Hub City Diner on Kaliste Saloom Road called it quits.
The first Catahoula's opened in 1996 in Grand Coteau and is now owned and operated by Jude Tauzin, and the original Hub City Diner in the Oil Center was founded 18 years ago by Charlie Goodson, George Graham and Pat Mould. Current owner Jimmy Guidry purchased the location 10 years ago from Graham and opened a second restaurant in the Shops at Martial on Kaliste Saloom Road in August 2006.
"It's a great location, and it's a beautiful restaurant," Guidry says of the Kaliste site. "The effort-reward just didn't work for me; the rewards have to outweigh the effort."
Guidry maintains economic conditions did not factor into his decision. "The economy never was a factor," he says. "The business didn't waver from beginning to end."
For John Slaughter at Catahoula's, however, economic conditions -- though not necessarily local ones -- did play a role. "No one likes to turn on the TV and see what they're seeing," he says. "The psychology [of the nation's recession] is a problem. The higher end restaurants are affected directly by it. Once people shave just a little bit, we are the first to be affected."
Slaughter and his partner, Brach Myers, made the decision after sitting down in December to assess what business would likely be like in the first quarter of '09. "We didn't really like what we saw," Slaughter says. The business' lease does not expire till 2010, but at least two interested parties have approached the landlord, Greg Gachassin, about the space, which also made the decision to close easier. Slaughter says it is highly likely that another restaurant operator will take over the lease soon.
Slaughter and Myers are already planning to launch a new business, a quick-service concept with the working name Louisiana Fish Fry, which is locating at the corner of Prejean Road and North University Avenue in Carencro (at the entrance to Pelican Park). The business will feature plates of fried fish, shrimp and chicken.
Guidry, who has been serving as general manager of his Oil Center location, has moved Jason Redmon back from Kaliste Saloom as GM, along with eight other employees. Redmon has been with Guidry for a decade. "Given the employment situation, it's a big plus for the Oil Center," Guidry says. The Kaliste Saloom Road location had about 42 employees when it closed. "From what I gather the majority are already employed," he says. "Restaurants are still short-staffed."
And while the local economy was not a driving factor in his decision to close, Guidry says 2009 will be a challenging time for local restaurants, given the decline in real estate activity, falling oil and natural gas prices and the national downturn. "Anybody that's not positioning for '09 is behind the 8 ball," he says.