On the Menu

Bella Figura giving up the ghost

by Leslie Turk

La Madeleine enters Lafayette market, as Ainsworth's new concept, Café Bella, prepares to take over former a la carte space.

[Editor's Note: Jack Ainsworth has apparently changed his mind about calling his new Oil Center eatery Jack's Place, as his lease now indicates it will be named Café Bella. He also does not indicate that he will offer breakfast. This story has been updated to reflect the new information, which was provided by his landlord.]

Longtime restaurateur Jack Ainsworth is vacating his 2207 Kaliste Saloom Road location, a departure that paves the way for La Madeleine Country French Café to enter the Lafayette market.

With a new concept ready to launch, Ainsworth is heading to the Oil Center to take over the former a la carte location. Ruth Ann Menutis, who owns the 301 Heymann Boulevard building that previously housed á la carte, says the space has been totally gutted for the new restaurant, Café Bella. "From the day I bought it, I started getting phone calls from different restaurants," Menutis says. She says Café Bella will offer lunch with dinner on weekends.

Stirling Properties commercial agent Charles Cornay says renovations on the Kaliste Saloom Road space should begin in mid-April.

ABiz broke the news in February 2012 that the 29-year-old bakery-bistro concept was scouting locations in Lafayette. In late 2011, when the Dallas-based company launched a franchise program, Nation's Restaurant News reported that it operated 60 locations in Georgia, Louisiana and Texas, as well as the Washington, D.C., area.

Cornay confirms to ABiz that the Lafayette store will be corporate-owned. A call to the company's headquarters was not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.

La Madeleine has six Louisiana locations: four in the New Orleans area and two in Baton Rouge.