Michel Baudouin, owner of downtown Asheville restaurant Bouchon, plans to open a second Bouchon location in East Asheville’s Haw Creek community. The announcement comes just months after Baudouin’s Cajun/Creole restaurant concept, Lafayette, closed after less than a year in business.
The new eatery will be at 184 New Haw Creek Road in the former Fellowship Free Will Baptist Church. Baudouin says the church’s 47 parking spaces were an important factor in selecting the location because “the problem we’ve been hearing from our regulars is that they can’t find parking downtown.”
Maintaining Bouchon’s already favorable reputation with locals remains a top priority for the restaurateur, and the new location’s increased parking availability will help meet that need. “They’re the ones who were there for us when we opened 11 years ago,” says Baudouin. “They’re the ones who are coming to stay away from downtown because of the parking issues.”
Operating a successful restaurant, Baudouin says, requires effort on the part of both the business and its patrons. “It takes two to tango,” he says. Accordingly, he notes, increased convenience leads to happy customers.
Keeping consistent with his focus of providing his core customer base with the best experience possible, Baudouin explains that each of the two Bouchon locations will target two distinct groups of diners; Ashevilleans and out-of-towners.
“The downtown restaurant will be for the downtown residents and the tourists, and the Haw Creek location will be for the locals,” Baudouin says. “We’ve already got a huge, huge response from a lot of the locals; that restaurant is created for the locals.”
Baudouin also says the new Bouchon will hopefully be opening spring 2017 and will be “basically identical,” in regards to menu options, as the Lexington Avenue location.
Commenting on the closure of Lafayette, Baudouin says developing a menu that satisfied everyone’s tastes proved difficult, and investing more time on a failing idea was not appealing.
“There are several reasons but one of them, if anybody had told me that I would get so many different opinions about what a rice and beans recipe should be, I would have never touched the concept to start with,” Baudouin says.
The question of further development of plans for his downtown Asheville French Quarter concept, which had included three restaurants and an event venue centered around a courtyard on Lexington Avenue, was met with the succinct response of “no” from Baudouin.