Turk File

Turk File 07.25.2007

by Leslie Turk

Don Bacqué named to airport commission

City-Parish President Joey Durel made a wise choice in naming former state Rep. Don Bacqué to fill the unexpired term of Don Higginbotham, who resigned from the Lafayette Regional Airport Commission on June 30. Better yet, it's a positive sign that someone with Bacqué's leadership skills and credentials has agreed to serve on the embattled commission.

A Lafayette native who's worked for Mass Mutual Financial Group for more than two decades, Bacqué will serve until July 3 of next year and will be eligible for re-appointment at that time, a possibility he'll consider. "If things work out, I would like to stay on," he says.

As the primary reason for his departure, Higginbotham cited the effect recent controversies with the commission were beginning to have on his business as a State Farm Insurance agent. He had served for 11 years.

Bacqué says the commission's questionable spending and violations of open meetings laws have been resolved by policy changes and believes its decision to put airport Director Greg Roberts under contract puts that issue to rest as well. "I'm thinking the controversy, hopefully, is behind us, and we can just concentrate on building the airport into the asset that it is," he says.

In 1982 Bacqué served as president (the position now called chairman) of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and carried its banner for consolidation of city and parish governments. Four years later, he was founding chairman of Leadership Lafayette, a community leadership program sponsored by the chamber.

Bacqué was in the state Legislature representing District 43 from 1987 to 1991 as an independent and is well-remembered for his legal argument against former KKK grand wizard David Duke. Bacqué contended that Duke should not be seated because he failed to meet the state's requirement for domicile in the district he was elected to serve. Despite that state law was clearly on his side, Bacqué lost the argument and Duke served from 1989 to 1992 and made the runoff for governor of the state in 1991.

Agave Mexican restaurant opens downtown

Agave Cantina, Lafayette restaurateur Nidal Balbeisi's newest concept on Vermilion Street (across from Stan's), is now open for lunch and dinner. Balbeisi's almost 5,000-square-foot downtown restaurant blends the spices of traditional Mexican cuisine with local flavors in a contemporary atmosphere, offering a tequila bar and lounge with more than 40 agave tequilas. It also has a large patio dining area.

Additionally, Balbeisi is about two weeks shy of opening what will likely be the prototype for a fast-food franchise of his popular Zeus concept. Called Zeus Express, the Greek and Lebanese eatery is taking over the former Popeye's Chicken and Biscuits at 4100 Johnston St. The new restaurant will be Balbeisi's fifth Zeus location in Lafayette.

No opening date has been set for his Italian restaurant, Trynd, which is locating next to Zeus Café on Jefferson Street.

The Wine Loft uncorks this week

Tim McCoy's The Wine Loft is opening behind Bonefish Grill — in River Ranch's Main Street development — this Thursday, July 26. McCoy, who has owned downtown's Jefferson Street Pub for more than four years, is a franchisee for the Baton Rouge-based company and has rights to develop additional locations of the high-end bar in Lafayette Parish.

McCoy says while The Wine Loft's décor is upscale, the emphasis is squarely on comfort. "I believe the surprise to the public will be how laid back an environment they will experience in such an upscale bar," McCoy says. "It's quite a unique feel." The wine bar will offer an intimate, candle-lit ambiance with more than 300 wines by the bottle and upwards of 70 wines by the glass in a large variety of price points. "You can get a glass of wine for $4.50 to $60," he says. The establishment also serves light plates and salads, premium liquor, champagne and beer. The $12 charcuterie board is a housemade assortment of sausages, pate, torchon and artisan meats accompanied by traditional focaccia bread, roasted garlic, kalamata olives, caper berries, cornichons and Dijon mustard. Quince paste and spiced nuts provide a balance to the heavy cheese flavors of the $11 artisan cheese plate.

At weekly wine tastings on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., customers will be able to purchase the featured premium wines by the glass for half price. On Tuesdays, select bottles of wine are half off, and on Mondays, ladies drink champagne free of charge.

River Ranch's The Wine Loft is part of a growing franchise originally founded in New Orleans.