Atlanta bank flips Chili's in north Lafayette for 16% profit

A commercial investment affiliate of Atlanta-based SunTrust Bank has flipped the Chili’s restaurant at 3220 NE Evangeline Thruway for a 16% profit in less than a year and a half.

An entity represented by SunTrust Equity Funding, LLC inked the sale for $5.1 million to Mill Valley, California-based Four Corners Property Trust on Dec. 27, according to land records with the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court. That followed SunTrust’s August 2018 acquisition of the property — which abuts Carencro city limits in unincorporated Lafayette Parish — from the Chili’s parent company, Brinker International, for $4.4 million.

Four Corners, a real estate investment trust, specializes in chain restaurants. The company owns 650 properties in 45 states, according to its website. As part of the sale, Four Corners takes over a 15-year lease with Chili’s that began in 2018.

Brinker International is building a new restaurant in the River Marketplace at 4301 Ambassador Caffery Parkway. A spokesperson with Stirling Properties has said the new restaurant will be a relocation of an existing one but could not say which one.

There is another Chili’s at 3905 Ambassador Caffery Parkway, four blocks from the planned new location.

Panera Bread brings back Bistro French Onion soup

Panera Bread, which has a location at 2622 Johnston St. and 12 others in Louisiana, brought back its Bistro Onion Soup to all its restaurants nationwide last week. 

The move, company officials announced on Twitter, came after customers took to social media to express their outrage after the item was dropped from its menu last fall to make room for seasonal items. 

The company enlisted the help of actress Phyliss Smith, who plays Phyllis on the show "The Office" as the fictitious company's social media director, to announce the move in a video.

“The internet was sad when we took it away, but we heard you,” said Scott Nelson, Panera’s VP of marketing, in a statement. “Now with the help of our friend and St. Louis native, Phyllis, we’re announcing French Onion Soup is back at Panera.”

Wild Child Wines now open in downtown Lafayette

Wild Child Wines, a retail wine store that will also sell wine by the glass, opened Saturday at 210 E. Vermilion St. in downtown Lafayette.

The brain child of Katie Culbert, owner of Lafayette and Baton Rouge boutique Kiki, and her husband, Denny Culbert, the business was inspired by the wine bars of New Orleans and Paris. Katie Culbert founded Kiki in 2006 and her husband has been a food photographer for over 10 years.

They wanted a way to combine their talents into one business, she said. 

"We've been in New Orleans quite a bit for my husband's work and they have these wine shops that create a third space to drink wine by the glass," she said. "There's a bacchanal feel. With my retail experience and his food experience and our love of wines, I think we can bring something that downtown Lafayette desperately needs. We live downtown, so it makes sense to us."

The store, which is in a 700-square-foot space, has almost a "coffee shop feel," she said, as it's still primarily a retail location and not a full bar.

Katie Culbert said they fantasized about opening the business for years but could never pull the trigger until the growth in downtown over the past two years gave them the push.

"We've seen a surge of new businesses and you can feel a buzz and there are people downtown even on weekends, not just during work hours," she said. "There's even apartments going up all over downtown and right down the street. With that, it just felt like the right time."

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