CARENCRO — Chad Vidrine wants his restaurant to be a destination for food lovers from St. Landry, St. Martin and Acadia parishes, the kind of locally owned and operated restaurant that he and his family would frequent while growing up in Acadiana.
“When I was a kid, we never went to chain restaurants,” Vidrine said. “We always went to locally owned places or we just ate at home."
Vidrine and his wife, Carri, own and operate Vidrine’s Steakhouse, a 7,700-square-foot restaurant located a mile off Interstate 49 in Carencro. The restaurant, which opened its doors in fall 2015, may still be considered young, but that doesn’t mean Vidrine’s experience in the food service industry is limited.
The family restaurant business began in 1997. Vidrine’s father Hubert had spent decades working at a refinery in Church Point when he and his wife, Tammy, decided to buy Weston’s, a butcher shop in Lewisburg.
Within a year of the purchase, the Vidrines decided to expand the business by selling plate lunches at the store. The family then added a small 30-seat dining room to the store and renamed it Vidrine’s Cafe.
In 2001, the business took off when Vidrine’s Cafe decided to start selling large steaks.
“At first, it was something to just supplement the store for the plate lunches,” Vidrine said.
How large were the steaks? The standard big sirloin weighed in at 32 ounces and cost a mere $10. After a little local advertising, the small cafe in Lewisburg was busting at the seams as people drove in from all around Acadiana.
“Next thing we knew, we had 100 people waiting outside,” Vidrine said. “On Saturday nights, we were serving roughly 300 people. There were lines out the door and people waiting around the building."
Vidrine had spent years helping out with the butcher shop/cafe all while working as a manager for Sears in Lafayette. But by 2002, Vidrine had to pick a career path.
“I was about to be transferred to Jacksonville, Florida, for Sears,” Vidrine said. “My wife, Carri, and I talked about it, and we decided to stay with the family business.”
Vidrine soon became general manager of Vidrine’s Cafe and watched as his family’s business continued to grow. A few years ago, Vidrine had to make another decision regarding the family business.
“My dad was in the middle of maybe starting to get out of it and was thinking about selling it to my wife and I,” Vidrine said. “We thought about it, and after looking at everything, we thought it was best to get closer to Lafayette and the I-10 and I-49 corridor. From there, it was about a two years process.”
With his father’s blessing and support, Vidrine and his wife opened up a new location, with a 5,000 square-foot dining area, in October 2015, with the name Vidrine’s Steakhouse.
“It is kind of a spin-off of the café,” Vidrine said. “The steakhouse name sometimes scares people off, but we have a lot more than that. We were known for the big steaks and the seasoning, so having that in the name pays homage to where we came from.”
Where as the old cafe, which closed its doors in June 2016, served steaks and plate lunches, there are plenty of non-steak options on the menu at the new location, including fried shrimp and fish, grilled tilapia, catfish, salads, sandwiches, wraps and burgers. There is also a full bar on site.
All those steak lovers, though, need not to worry. Vidrine’s Steakhouse still serves plenty of their well-known seasoned steaks. A small sirloin (18-20 ounces) costs $18 while a large sirloin (36-40 ounces) costs $29. There are also ribeyes, filet mignon, porterhouses, New York strips and hamburger steaks.
Vidrine admits that opening a new location has been at times a nightmare, but he loves the challenge of it.
The other factor that has made getting a new restaurant off the ground a bit more taxing has been Vidrine’s other job — head soccer coach at Beau Chene High School. After years of coaching a club team in Opelousas, Vidrine helped bring back the soccer program at Beau Chene in 2006 and has turned the program into one of the area’s best with multiple state semifinal appearances.
During soccer season, Vidrine’s schedule consists of heading to the restaurant in the morning, then practice from when school lets out to about 5 p.m., and then returning to the restaurant for the dinner crowd.
“In my mind, I was thinking it was going to last four years,” Vidrine said of his coaching gig. “My son was going to be a freshman that year, so I thought after he graduated that I would find someone to hand it off to. Next thing you know, you stay and another freshman class comes in and energizes you again.”
Though his life may be hectic, Vidrine is excited about the restaurant's future, especially considering how much interest his own children have in its daily operation, much like he did with his own father.
“My middle son, Braylen, will come and help when soccer season is over and my daughter, Brooklyn, would rather be here than be at home with one of us,” Vidrine said with a laugh. “She really wants to be waitress, but she is only 9, so she will have to wait a few years.”
114 Derek Plaza Drive, Suite D, Carencro
Hours: Monday through Thursday (10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.), Friday and Saturday (10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.), Sunday (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Info: (337) 886-6241 (Restraurant), To Go Orders (337) 886-6241; or visit vidrines.com