With Jazz music playing softly in the background, dim lighting, and a cool atmosphere, Lumiere owner/partner Bryan Bunn introduced himself. Lumiere Blues & Jazz Bistro is a contemporary new restaurant that gives Downtown Houma a fresh breath. The exposed brick, high ceilings, industrial style lighting, black iron piping, and vintage checkered floor brings a family-friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
Bunn explained the vision of Lumiere (which means light in French) was actually envisioned by his wife. The couple has a background in the oil field industry and they made the connection for the title of the new project to power plants. They partnered with managing directors, and sisters, Kristy Thibodaux and Mitzi Rieve, who have 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry as well as managing multiple businesses. They have all known each other for nearly 18 years which conveys the trust they have in each other to be succussfull.It was their experience in the industry that helped shape Lumiere. Bunn said it took just seven weeks to get the restaurant ready for opening day, which was June 9, 2021.
The restaurant is located in the space that most recently housed Bilello’s Cafe in Downtown Houma and is enriched with history. The building used to house a steam driven generator that was powered by water pulled from the bayou that lays behind the building. Bunn said they moved the generator to Barrow Street in the old power plant, then moved to the current location. A print of the original generator can be seen upon entering Lumiere. The crew had plenty of work on their hands to get the location ready. “When we [first] walked in, it was not what it looks like right now,” Bunn said. Everything had to be painted, fixtures were built and installed, the floors had to be redone, and the plumbing was a nightmare. The biggest project was to get the kitchen completely redone. It was completely disassembled and reassembled. “It was a lot of work,” Bunn said, “They’ve worked tirelessly to get it done.”
When it comes to the menu, Bunn and Rieve had fun with the options. Bunn gave Rieve full range on creating the menu. She said her place is in the kitchen: she loves family, and loves home cooking. The passion comes from her mother who taught her how to cook from a young age. They wanted some lighter and healthier options for patrons to enjoy. Some options include shrimp, beef, and grilled vegetable kebabs, crawfish etouffee over grilled fish, seafood stuffed avocado, and they also have gluten free options. Everything is prepared in-house from their sauces to their seafood stuffings. They pride themselves on fresh food and home cooking. She would try a few recipes, Bunn would tag in the sampling, which has led to the menu the restaurant has today. You can also thank Bunn’s step-mother for the delicious desserts. Also, yes, they will still be offering fan-favorite fried chicken on Saturdays just as Mr. Danny Bilello would want it. The restaurant will also add some seasoning to Houma by hosting live local musicians as well as brunch on Sundays.
Both Bunn and Rieve agree on the vision for the new business being rooted in community. Bunn said they want to get downtown Houma back to what it once was, “We’re hoping to be a piece of the puzzle to try to get people coming down here. We’re going to have an atmosphere where you can bring your family. For us, it’s just about the community.” They wanted to bring another option to downtown, which they believe the area lacks. Their passion to grow the downtown area is evident as they explain what they believe is the issue with the area: “The more people that work downtown means that more people will visit downtown.”
Family is priority at Lumiere and it is evident when interacting with the staff. Rieve said, “It’s very important that we create a team. It’s not, you work for me. You work with us, you work with me. It’s never me or an I. It’s always a we or us, whether it’s good or bad, we either fail or we grow together.” Both Thibodaux and Rieve were worried about hiring staff due to the recent employment hardships. However, they easily hired a full staff, and even have people on a waiting list for hire. She gives credit to the fact the employees know the work ethic and know how they operate. Bunn compared the staff work ethic to his oil field experience, “The interaction with us [in the oil field] was a lot like what I see here because the environment that we work in is really dangerous. So, you got to have each other’s back. You have to be looking to make sure that your buddies are not about to get hurt. They’re doing the same thing here.”
Rieve ended the conversation with enthusiasm, “It’s definitely something to be proud of. We’ve had a lot of support from friends and family. We were out here for the White Boot Stroll and had moved out talking to everybody passing, let them come and do a walk-through and told them what our plans were. We told them the history of the building and people were just amazed by that because no one ever knew. We’ll get there.”