Turk File

Turk File January 25, 2012

by Leslie Turk

Cottage Landing, a student housing project, is under construction at 301 Coolidge St. in the Oil Center.

Student Cottages Going Up On Coolidge

For the first time this fall, UL students will have the option of living in a cottage community.
By Leslie Turk

An Atlanta-based company is entering the Lafayette market with a unique $8 million student-cottage complex on Coolidge Street at General Mouton.

The back of the complex, across from the old Rodemacher plant, is in the 1800 block of West Pinhook Road, what was once the site of Evangeline Motors.

Cottage Landing Partners, a subsidiary of Barnhart Guess Properties, is developing the 47 cottages with 189 bedrooms, says Frank Klemenc, director of architecture, planning and construction for Barnhart Guess. Barnhart Guess handles leasing, management and development of mostly mixed use and retail space, as well as retirement communities, throughout the Southeast but is now branching out into student housing. "We're starting to do these all over the country where there is a need," Klemenc says.

Called Cottage Landing, the gated Oil Center complex will offer three-, four- and five-bedroom options. Students will pay $530 per bedroom for a five-bedroom cottage, $540 per room for a four bedroom and $550 for each room in a three-bedroom cottage. Amenities include a resort-style swimming pool and sun-bathing patio. Pre-leasing of units is under way.

Court records show that another Barnhart subsidiary, Red Lafayette LLC, purchased the 4-acre tract of land in mid-December for $1.25 million from Evangeline Oil Realty Co., which is owned by former U.S. Rep. Jimmy Hayes and several of his family members. The Pinhook Road location once housed Evangeline Motors but most recently was occupied by Styles Fashion Outlet.

Including the cost of the land, Klemenc says about $8 million will be invested in the development.

Choot em, Troy!

One of the "characters" in the popular History Channel reality-TV program Swamp People has filed a federal lawsuit against three companies accusing them of violating his trademark on several catchphrases, according to The Advocate.

In early January, Troy Landry from the Assumption Parish town of Pierre Part filed the suit in federal district court in Lafayette against National Cap and Sportswear, Halpern Import Co. and Ripple Junction Design Co. He claims in the suit that in 2010 he trademarked the catchprases "Choot Em," Tree Shaka," "Tree Breaka" and others, which he uses to sell apparel through an eponymous production company.

- Walter Pierce

The Picard Group's Nick Cahanin, Josh Borill, Tyron Picard and former state Sen. Mike Michot

Michot joins The Picard Group

Former state Sen. Mike Michot, term-limited after 16 years in the Louisiana Legislature, has joined The Picard Group as senior policy advisor.

The governmental affairs and business consulting firm, which also has offices in Baton Rouge and Washington, D.C., was founded in 2011 by former Acadian Ambulance exec Tyron Picard. Michot and Picard are longtime friends.

In his last four years in the Legislature, Michot chaired the Senate Finance Committee.

Michot, 48, will advise the Picard team and its clients on finding effective solutions in the governmental process. By law he is prohibited from lobbying the Louisiana Legislature for at least two years.

"We are honored that Mike Michot has chosen to join our team. His advice and counsel to our team and our clients, as well as his relationships on the local and federal level, will be of great value," says Tyron Picard. "The addition of Mike, along with our existing affiliation with the Roedel Parsons Koch Blache Balhoff and McCollister law firm in Baton Rouge, deepens the pool of resources available for both our team and the clients which we serve." Picard and Michot have known each other for more than 25 years.

"Our law firm is also excited to draw upon the experience of Mike Michot, whose addition to the overall team makes a positive statement for the future of our governmental relations practice locally, statewide and in Washington D.C.," says Larry Roedel, managing partner of Roedel Parsons.

Moving over to The Picard Group with Michot is his longtime legislative aide, 34-year-old Josh Borill of Crowley. Borill has been named deputy public policy advisor.

A Lafayette native, Michot also owns the local durable medical equipment company, Premier Medical Equipment. He is the son of former Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Louis Michot and the late Patricia Smith Michot. He is married to the former Monique Broussard of Estherwood and they have two children, Mikie, 16, and Mary Carolyn, 15.

- Leslie Turk

By the Numbers

$2.83 million

Amount Donald Mosing, chairman emeritus for the board of directors of Frank's Casing Crew and Rental Tools (No. 8 on ABiz's list of Acadiana's Top 50 privately held companies with $240 million in 2010 revenues), donated to UL's College of Engineering in early January. The gift, the largest current, non-bequest donation to the engineering department, will create a $1 million endowed chair in mechanical engineering, a computer aided design laboratory and a student career development program. Mosing is the son of the oilfield service company's founder, Frank Mosing.

$3.3 million

Mosing's donation came just as this amount was confirmed as UL's share of the latest $50 million in higher education funding cuts for the remainder of fiscal year 2011-12. No faculty or staff layoffs or furloughs are planned, with the cuts instead hitting operating expenses, equipment and supply acquisitions, and travel. University subsidies for athletics, research, and economic and workforce development centers will also be reduced.


The amount, according to Lafayette Consolidated Government, that night club Karma owes LCG in delinquent payments of the special law enforcement levy dating back to June. On the hook for nearly $5,000 per month and facing a one-year suspension of its liquor license, Karma is one of six downtown bars that stopped paying the levy in protest. The bars filed a federal lawsuit against LCG challenging the constitutionality of the security fee.


Amount 32-year-old Brandy Z. Rogers of New Iberia embezzled from Teche Federal Bank from June 2008 to January 2011. Rogers, who was a customer service rep for the local bank, accessed customer accounts and CDs without their knowledge. She created a Teche Federal Bank account using a made-up name and SS number and deposited some of the funds into the account, then wrote checks using the made-up name. Rogers also created and processed loans in the names of Teche Federal Bank customers without their knowledge. In her effort to conceal the scheme, Rogers altered the customers' IRS 1099 forms. At her Jan. 13 plea hearing in federal court, in which she pleaded guilty to embezzlement, Rogers acknowledged that she embezzled funds for her personal benefit, including the purchase of vehicles, home improvements, living expenses and entertainment. She faces a term of imprisonment of not more than 30 years, a fine of not more than $1 million, or both, and supervised release of not more than five years.

- Leslie Turk

On the Menu

Bistro Byronz has opened in the old Elephant Room at
Kaliste Saloom andAmbassador Caffery

Bit of Red Stick in Hub City

How Gene Todaro and the Kantrow family came together to bring Bistro Byronz to Lafayette.
By Anna Purdy

Located at 5412 Government St. in Baton Rouge, Bistro Byronz (pronounced either bye-renn or bye-ronz, they don't care as long as you come visit) began in 1979 with a Houston hospital visit and ended up being one of the more successful restaurants in Baton Rouge.

Now, thanks to a friendship across literal bridges, it's expanded to Lafayette.

Located at 2605 Kaliste Saloom Road, it's where The Elephant Room used to be. After someone skidded and smashed a car into the building, Gene Todaro had to close to rebuild. In the meantime, Elephant Room was moved and its concept restructured to fit the location at 340 Kaliste Saloom, a few doors down from Marcello's Wine Market Cafe. While deciding what to do with the old location, an out-of-town business was hoping to bust into Lafayette's notoriously generous yet decisive restaurant scene.

Franchise founder Mike Kantrow and his wife were in Houston when their son, Byron, was receiving urgent medical care. While waiting and needing something to eat, the couple happened upon a little sandwich shop near the hospital that impressed them. When they got home, Kantrow found a spot on Government and Eugene streets and figured out if they sold a certain amount of sandwiches they could make extra money to supplement their growing family. It was named Byronz, with a "Z" stepping in for a possessive "S" and named in honor of Kantrow's father, brother and son.

This location closed in 1990. More than a decade later Kantrow's kids, Brock and Emilie, were all grown up and decided to leave their respective careers to go back to the family business. A short time later the restaurant had locations in Mandeville and Shreveport, and now it's made its way to Lafayette. Brock has taken a step back from the family business although "he and Byron are the marketing idea men. They came up with the website," says Emelie. A mother of two small kids with another on the way, Emelie has been shuttling to and from her corporation's new Hub City location regularly. While the Krantows do have partners and investors, Emelie makes it clear that "it's a family affair. My mom came up with a lot of the recipes."

"Bistro Byronz has added a unique culinary option on Government Street in Baton Rouge for a number of years now," says Jay D. Ducote, one of the loudest voices in Baton Rouge's food scene at biteandbooze.com. "Its lunches and weekend brunch are applaudable dining options. My go-to dishes are the blue cheese chips and the steak frites - but don't order it anything over medium rare!"

The cuisine at Bistro Byronz is French American. The recipes originated in Baton Rouge, so it isn't Cajun or Creole. Bistros traditionally have light meals that can be ordered and eaten with little fanfare. The food and ambiance are twins of modest elegance in bistros - these are restaurants that began in Paris over a century ago in people's homes. Bistro Byronz is black and white with antiqued mirrors and pictures of muted yet bright color as tittles along the walls. The space is nicely segmented for intimacy. "We thought dividing it would make the place seem smaller, but it seems bigger," says Nicole Jordan, who functions as the proprietor of Todaro's Lafayette eateries.

In fact, it was Jordan who was instrumental in bringing Byronz to Lafayette.

"I was familiar with it and I wanted to bring it in. When I did wine sales and they opened Byronz in Baton Rouge I helped do the wine training. I fell in love with the concept and feel," she says. "I told Gene I think you should talk to Bistro Byronz. We have kind of the same vision of things." The Kantrows had been looking for a ready-to-go spot in Lafayette, because building was somewhat cost prohibitive for the moderately priced eatery.

In fact, everything is under $21 at Bistro Byronz. The concept is true to the idea of a bistro - lunches run from $8-$13 on average and dinners $10-$20.

BLUE CHEESE CHIPS, $4.95 nibble, $8.95 full plate
People in Baton Rouge raved to me about these chips, so I knew I had to try them first. The chips are not culled from a Sam's Club bag but potatoes freshly hand cut and fried in a mixture of soybean and corn oils. For a person who doesn't like potato chips, these are magnificent even without the bleu cheese. With it, of course, it's better. The cheese is fresh and has less of a bite while still flavorful. Clusters of bleu cling to the chips and get most of them, but when you get to the plate's bottom you see the hot chips were placed on a bed of the stuff, which is now melted and waiting to be scooped up.

A cassoulet is the inspiration for the word and dish casserole. Traditionally, it is ham slow cooked with white beans in an earthenware pot called a cassole, which is how the name came about. This might have been this day's best dish. The sausage is from Poche's Market in Breaux Bridge and made of chicken and duck, first grilled before slow cooking, adding a depth in flavor. The white beans were mulled with bits of pork, and it was perfectly spiced.

Shrimp Louie with pasta salad

Served on your choice of bread, the Shrimp Louie comes packed with small shrimp with a tomato and lettuce. The side is a cold rotini pasta salad with tang. For a few bucks more you can 86 the sandwich and get the Shrimp Louie on salad.

I mentioned my love of the Reuben a few months ago when I wrote about Village Café's take on the classic. To me, it's a marvel of a concept: corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island or Russian dressing on rye or pumpernickel bread is some sort of alchemy where things I hate marry and give birth to something I love. The Byreuben subs out the Thousand Island for the Louie dressing and the result is a bit of a lighter sandwich. The corned beef came hot and wasn't fatty, cut properly and spiced right.

Others have certainly blended the best of king cakes and bread puddings, but my eyes had yet to see it. Bistro's is deceptive: it comes out looking like king cake, with the white frosting and sprinkles, but you cut in to taste the hot, soaked cake underneath. It's sweet and puts the two quintessentially Louisiana desserts together in a lovely way.

I hate marshmallows. Yes, I'm the odd duck who will rarely even put them in cocoa. So if I like this, have faith you'll dig it. But in this it was truly awesome. A dense, creamy brick of chocolate punctuated with caramel and marshmallows is delectable.

To make a reservation, call 988-1032 or check out the website at bistrobyronz.com/bistro-in-lafayette.

Chuck Wood

Wood out - yet again - at KSMB group

Radio veteran Chuck Wood, who returned to his old job with the local group of stations that includes FM stations 94.5 KSMB and 99.1 KXKC in mid-2009, was let go in early January by new owners Cumulus Media. Local radio sources say Wood's position was eliminated, likely part of a broader move by Cumulus to do away with general managers in smaller markets.

Citadel Broadcasting Corp. sold the local stations to Cumulus in September, about two years after bringing Wood back to run the local franchise, which also includes 104.7 KNEK and 95.5 KRRQ. While Wood's position may not fit into Cumulus' model, it was common knowledge in radio circles that the group of stations was performing well financially.
In 1998, Wood landed a job as sales manager with one of the KSMB group's chief competitors, what is now Townsquare Media, after being forced out by then-owner Powell Group and replaced by another local radio veteran, Mary Galyean. Powell later sold to Citadel.

In 2009, it was Galyean who was cut loose by Citadel to pave the way for Wood's return. She's since moved on to a job as communications business support supervisor with LUS Fiber, and most bets are on Wood landing on his feet very soon as well.

Reached on his cell phone, Wood declined comment.

The woman answering the phone at Cumulus headquarters in Atlanta referred our inquiry to the local Cumulus office. A message left there was not immediately returned.
Cumulus had confirmed in February 2011 that it was negotiating with Las Vegas-based Citadel in a deal valued at about $2.4 billion in cash and stock. On Sept. 16 the publicly traded media giant announced that it had closed the deal. With the completion of the Citadel acquisition, Cumulus said it became the largest pure-play radio broadcaster in the U.S., with more than 570 radio stations in 120 markets and a nationwide radio network serving more than 4,000 stations.

- Leslie Turk

Morgan Keegan's Lafayette office on Camellia Boulevard in River Ranch

Raymond James Buying Morgan Keegan

Combination creates one of country's largest off-Wall Street wealth management and investment banking firms.
By Leslie Turk

In an effort to expand both its private client wealth management and capital markets businesses, and noting that timing and pricing are right, Raymond James Financial Inc. has entered into a definitive stock purchase agreement to acquire Morgan Keegan & Company Inc. and related affiliates from Regions Financial for $930 million. Memphis-based Morgan Keegan's Lafayette office is located in River Ranch; it has eight financial advisers with four assistants, one insurance specialist, an office manager and a receptionist.

In all, the acquisition will add 1,000 private client financial advisers to Raymond James' adviser count, bringing it to more than 6,000. Raymond James is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Fla. At least for the foreseeable future, it is expected that the name Morgan Keegan will be retained.

Regions Financial will also receive a $250 million dividend from Morgan Keegan, bringing the total value of the deal to the bank to $1.18 billion. The deal is expected to close by March 31 of this year.

"While our preference is generally organic growth, we have used strategic mergers to grow throughout our history when the timing and pricing are right and, most importantly, when there is a strong cultural fit and clear path for integration," Raymond James CEO Paul C. Reilly said in announcing the acquisition. "This merger reflects those tenets. Morgan Keegan private client and capital markets professionals are well-respected in the industry for their capabilities and client-service orientation. Bringing them to Raymond James and working with their excellent management teams represents a major step toward achieving our vision of being the premier alternative to Wall Street."

The combined businesses of two of the Southeast's biggest brokerages will create one of the country's largest full-service wealth management and investment banking firms not headquartered on Wall Street.

Regions is expected to use the proceeds from the sale to help pay off its $3.5 billion debt to the U.S. government, money it received as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Listing acquisition highlights, Raymond James noted that Morgan Keegan, with an anticipated $700 million tangible book value at closing, has demonstrated stability and profitability across economic and market cycles. Together, the firm expects its financial planning, high-net-worth and retail front-end support systems to drive greater financial adviser productivity.

As part of the merger, Morgan Keegan CEO John Carson will join Raymond James Financial as president and will oversee Fixed Income and Public Finance. Other senior leaders from Morgan Keegan will be joining the firm in roles yet to be determined.

Raymond James, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, affirmed its commitment to maintaining a large presence in Memphis, where it has had retail and institutional offices for years prior to the merger. Raymond James' Fixed Income and Public Finance businesses will be centered in Memphis, and the firm intends to continue to operate a regional support center there.