As an independent restaurant owner in South Louisiana it’s difficult enough to conduct business every day knowing that you can’t please everyone, but you still strive no matter what the situation.
As the chef and owner of Catahoula’s in Grand Coteau, I’ve been put in the unique situation of having another restaurant open just down the road with the same name, which was never supposed to be the case.
At the outset, Catahoula’s on Pinhook was supposed to be Catahoula’s Steakhouse. That was the initial idea to which I agreed. After about two months though, its menu changed to reflect more of what I was doing in Grand Coteau and not a steakhouse at all. People might ask, “Why open another Catahoula’s just 15 minutes away?” That’s exactly what I said.
We understand that the average person thinks that the restaurants are the same, a chain if you will. However, what we have stressed from the beginning was that we only shared a name. The Slaughter family were the owners of the original Catahoula’s. In 2007 I became the owner of the Grand Coteau restaurant. Some months later the Slaughters opened the Pinhook location and retained the name with the understanding that it would be a steakhouse. Had I known that they were going to try and do the exact same thing that I was doing in Grand Coteau, I would never have accepted it.
After a few months I realized that I had made a huge mistake in allowing the name to be retained by the Pinhook location. Now I face the challenge of the Pinhook Catahoula’s closing its doors and having its customers coming to Grand Coteau to redeem gift cards that were sold through the month of December. It has been very difficult and almost impossible to explain to those customers that we have nothing to do with that restaurant and can’t redeem their cards in Grand Coteau. We don’t even have the equipment to read the information on the Pinhook cards.
When the Pinhook Catahoula’s closed its doors, I suggested that we work something out so that their customers could redeem the gift cards in Grand Coteau. The owners of the Pinhook location informed me that they would not work out a deal to give us the funds from the unclaimed cards, which would have allowed us to accept them, and that whoever took over the Pinhook location would honor those cards.
Now letters are being written (“IndBox: Catahoula’s Runaround,” Feb. 4) saying that calls to our Grand Coteau restaurant looking for a refund have gone unreturned. I understand people’s frustration, but this is simply untrue. My general manager, Ben Leger, and I return all messages every day the restaurant is open for business.