The smiling face and easy charm of Courtney Vincent will no longer greet diners at Charley G’s. Wait, wait, this is not bad news for longtime customers, who have no doubt looked forward to seeing Vincent for the past 16 years. In fact, plan to see even more of this consummate professional, who is striking out on his own. Vincent is in the process of buying Village Café and POUR, located side-by-side at 1 Degaulle Square in River Ranch.
Vincent will soon join forces with the dual concepts’ executive chef, Jeremy Conner, who has put his stamp on the innovative farm-to-table menu offered by the café and adjoining bar/restaurant — so much so that Louisiana Cookin' magazine named him a "Chef to Watch" last year. Village Café is upscale, white tablecloth at night, but much more casual at lunchtime. POUR is a full-service bar that also offers self-serve, automated wine machines. It has live entertainment Thursday through Saturday nights.
“The key is great service as well as great food,” says Vincent. “My job is to support the front of house and make sure that the two parts work well together.”
Vincent, who joins investor Walter Hidalgo in purchasing the concepts, will be the hands-on manager. Hidalgo, a River Ranch resident, says he will take a back seat. “This is long overdue for Courtney and well deserved,” Hidalgo tells ABiz. “He takes care of business and pays great attention to detail.”
“I’m not the kind of owner who sits at the corner of the bar and drinks wine,” Vincent says. “I’m the host. I’ll be serving food, opening wine, making sure customers are happy.” Outside of saying what his role will be, Vincent did not share any details about changes he has planned, noting that the purchase should be finalized in the next week or so.
Hidalgo, as a customer of Charley G’s, has known Vincent for years. “I’ve been impressed,” Hidalgo says. In July Hidalgo sold his oilfield service company, Envirochem, to Francis Drilling Fluids. Since then, he's had a couple of conversations with Vincent, which led to the offer to purchase Village Café and adjoining POUR from River Ranch developer Robert Daigle and his partner in the restaurant business, architect Kirby Pécot.
Daigle says the restaurant is a touchstone for quality of life at River Ranch, a traditional neighborhood development in south Lafayette. “It’s a very important use in a very important spot on the Town Square,” Daigle says.
The restaurant was not for sale, but the collaboration of Hidalgo and Vincent caught the existing owners’ attention, and a deal was quickly struck. “I’m convinced that Courtney will absolutely do it right,” says Daigle. “He learned from the best,” Daigle adds, crediting Charlie Goodson with teaching Vincent how to run a high-quality restaurant.
“I don’t know who taught whom more,” laughs Goodson. Vincent was in his 20s when he went to work at Charley G’s. “That’s how I learned, by people teaching me,” Goodson tells ABiz. “Your children sometimes move on. ... We’ll miss him, but we’re happy for him, too.”
Goodson and his partners, Jody Ferguson and Mark Krampe, own Charley G’s, Social Southern Table & Bar and the Tap Room. With Vincent’s departure, they have promoted Charley G’s assistant manager, Justin Caldwell, to general manager. Eli Touchet, Social’s wine and spirits expert, will move over to Charley G’s as assistant manager. “There has to be upward movement or you lose your people,” says Goodson. “This is working out well for everyone.”