The adventure continues: La Banque celebrates successful first year

Diners enjoy French cuisine at La Voute Bistro + Bar 
during the restaurant's opening in 2015.

(Chronicle file photo)


La Banque Hotel in Homewood will begin its one-year anniversary celebration on July 14, a month after the actual opening date in 2015. 

The timing is not off. 
 

  La Voute marks its French 
  heritage with a model 
  Eiffel Tower in the 
  restaurant reception area. 

  (Photo by Eric Crump/H-F 
  Chronicle)

That's Bastille Day, the French celebration of its 1789 revolution and 1790 unification, so the timing helps underscore the establishment's French theme and cuisine.

Owner Claude Gendreau said a few adjustments have been made to menu in the hotel's bistro, La Voute, with a few American touches added in deference to patrons' tastes, but it remains true to its French roots.

"It's still an adventure, and it's going to continue to be an adventure for a while," he said. "The hotel is less challenging than the restaurant. The restaurant ... has so many moving parts."

It was also popular from the moment it opened. Gendreau said the bar probably should have been bigger. There are many nights when it is full, he said.

"We have  a niche," he said. "We're not really competing against other restaurants in town. We're all a little different. We have a different following. The core is French."

La Voute has seen other changes, including the addition of outdoor dining along Martin Square. The streetscape was still under construction when the bistro opened.

The hotel side of the business is still growing, he said.

When it opened, patrons quickly started book space for special event parties like weddings, anniversaries and birthdays. 

Gendreau said at the time that the key to long-term success would be the development of broader clientele, including travelers and people in town on business, which would provide steady business.

Growth has continued, he said. After a mid-winter lull, occupancy is on the upswing. He said occupancy is approaching the average for hotels in the South Suburbs and that there are more and more nights when the hotel is full.

With the restaurant bustling and the hotel's business growing, Gendreau said he is glad he invested in Homewood. 

His first local investment, Ravisloe Country Club, has become profitable and is increasing in traffic and is getting critical acclaim from golfers. 

The hotel project began as an effort to complement Ravisloe, and Gendreau said his team's marketing efforts continue to aim for bringing golfers and special event guests from Ravisloe into downtown Homewood.

"We're trying to market ourselves as an urban resort. We have golf. We have a hotel. We have a great restaurant. The only thing that's missing is a beach," he said.

Guiding the country club's regional patrons to the hotel could also bring more customers to other local businesses, he said, cementing La Banque's role as a revitalizing force for the downtown area.

That would help justify the village's investment in the project. La Banque was awarded $900,000 in tax increment financing benefits. Because the hotel fulfilled the requirements of the program, the grant has been paid, according to Village Finance Director Dennis Bubenik.

Gendreau said the community continues to support the project.

"We feel great support from the community. The businesses in town really support us," he said. "Everyone wants us to be successful. We'll make it a success. We're here to stay."

Anniversary celebration specials and events

  • July 14: Bastille Day Celebration: The hotel and restaurant will be decorated in blue, white and red flags with sounds of French music from Maurice Chevalier and Edith Piaf all week. 
  • There will be raffles for every day of the week that include prize package of a La Banque Hotel stay, a golf package at Ravisloe Country Club, French wine and dinner and brunch for two guests at La Voute.
  • There will be meal and drink specials each day July 15, 17 and 19 through 21.
  • On July 18, La Voute will host a social business lunch on the patio from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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