Former Chili's building sold

The old Chili’s Bar & Grill on Ambassador Caffery Parkway has been sold to the owner of the El Paso Mexican Grill restaurants, records show.

Ruben Properties, which lists its officer as El Paso Mexican Grill owner Ruben Chavez, bought the building at 3905 Ambassador Caffery Parkway for $1.4 million, according to documents filed with the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court.

El Paso Mexican Grill has two locations in Lafayette, including one across the street at 3910 Ambassador Caffery Parkway.

Efforts to reach Chavez were unsuccessful.

Brinker International, which owns Chili’s restaurants, put the 5,563-square-foot building up for sale this summer after moving in July to a new location at the corner of Ambassador Caffery Parkway and Settlers Trace Boulevard.

On its website, El Paso Mexican Grill said in 2015 it would leave the Ambassador Caffery location, citing the high traffic, and would open new locations, including one at 200 W. Gloria Switch Road in Carencro.

Investar names Acadiana president

Investar National Bank has named Byron Breaux as Acadiana market president and senior vice president.

Breaux has more than 35 years banking experience in the Lafayette market. He was recently with Hancock Whitney Bank, where he was senior group manager.

His position with Investar includes overseeing the bank’s footprint in the region, which includes two Lafayette offices and three in Evangeline Parish.

“Byron is a respected and seasoned banker who does an incredible job fostering relationships,” said Jeff Blum, Investar’s western region president. “With extensive knowledge in commercial real estate lending, he brings expertise and leadership to a team of bankers who stand ready to welcome him into the Investar culture.”

Breaux is a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette and LSU School of Banking.

Ecoserv CEO named award finalist

Kenny DesOrmeaux, president and CEO of Abbeville-based Ecoserv, was named the Gulf Coast finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year.

Now in its 34th year, the award from Ernst & Young honors business leaders whose ambitions deliver innovation, growth and prosperity while building businesses that transform the world. Regional finalists will be considered for the Entrepreneur of the Year national award in November.

DesOrmeaux, an Abbeville native, holds patents for tools and methodology that led to his founding of Offshore Cleaning Systems in 1998 and its growth into a multimillion-dollar operation.

“It is our people who have been invigorated by our environmental focus,” DesOrmeaux said. “That, and their willingness to pay attention to details that have made us a success. We plan to remain on the forefront of providing environmental services and solutions that meet the needs of the ever-changing energy and petrochemical industries.”

Ecoserv was created in 2014 with the purchase of Houston-based Newpark Environmental Services and its merger into Offshore Cleaning Systems to offer a new streamlined system for oil and gas waste management. Ecoserv operates in the Gulf of Mexico, the Permian Basin and within the petrochemical industry across multiple states.

LHC, Texas company expand partnership

LHC Group and a Texas-based health care agency have expanded their joint venture by adding a hospice provider in San Marcos, Texas.

The Lafayette-based company and Christus Health, which have been partners since 2017, will officially add the unnamed agency once the deal is finalized Nov. 1, both companies announced last week.

Once the agreement is final, the LHC Group-Christus partnership will include 22 home health, hospice, palliative care, community-based and long-term acute care locations in three states.

The two already share ownership and oversight of home health and hospice agencies, community-based services and long-term acute care facilities. The joint venture is governed by a board made up of equal representation from both companies.

“We are proud to join our partners at Christus Health in expanding hospice services for San Marcos and the surrounding region,” LHC Group chair and CEO Keith G. Myers said. “This is a great opportunity to bring compassionate, quality care to more patients and their loved ones.”

Shuttered Checkers location purchased

The Checkers Drive-In that closed earlier this year has been sold.

StarrChex, which owns three other locations in Lafayette and one in New Iberia, sold the property at 3220 Ambassador Caffery Parkway to Chun Ping Lin and Chun Geng Lin of Lafayette for $399,000, according to documents filed with the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court.

StarrChex, which also owns Checkers locations in Savannah, Georgia, also closed the Opelousas location.

Attempts to reach the new owners were unsuccessful.

Checkers, which has nearly 900 locations nationwide, had suffered from slumping sales for years until the pandemic hit, industry publications reported, and earlier this year the company named former Boston Market CEO Frances Allen to lead the company. Fitch Ratings indicated it was in danger of filing for bankruptcy.

Yet sales grew 4% between March 24 to June 15, Bloomberg news reported, and its losses were smaller than its other nine main competitors during the pandemic, including Sonic, McDonald's and Burger King.

Veterans business resource summit set

The Urban League of Louisiana is hosting its 2020 Veterans Small Business Resources Summit online from 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 6.

The free summit will include information on resources that are available to veterans and their spouses to start and grow businesses.

Guest speaker will be Joey Strickland, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs. Other speakers are Troy Broussard, associate state director-advocacy and outreach, AARP-Louisiana; Mark Scott, director of the Veterans Business Outreach Center, Mississippi State University; Jo Ann Lawrence, deputy district director, of the Small Business Administration Louisiana District Office; Stephanie Hartman, director of small business services for Louisiana Economic Development's Louisiana Veterans First Initiative; Christina Dayries, assistant deputy director, grants and administration, in the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness; Colleen Broussard-Perry, procurement counselor with the Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Registration is required at https://urbanleaguela.org.

State trade mission to Mexico planned

Louisiana Economic Development will participate in a January 2021 trade mission to Villahermosa, Mexico, joining delegates from the World Trade Center of New Orleans, the Committee of 100 for Economic Development and the Consulate of Mexico in New Orleans.

Business leaders interested in joining the trade delegation can contact LED International Project Manager Jessica Steverson at Jessica.steverson@la.gov. All required health protocols related to COVID-19 will be followed on the trip.

The trade mission will convene Jan. 11-15 in Villahermosa, capital of the Tabasco state in south Mexico, for meetings with government and private-sector representatives from Yucatan, Tabasco, Campeche and Veracruz. Villahermosa has a metro population of more than 800,000 and is known as an energy capital in a nation poised for major oil, gas, petrochemical and infrastructure investments.

“Our trade mission to Mexico is designed to foster bonds of shared economic interest, and will ideally open new markets to Louisiana businesses,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “With close proximity and a shared reliance on the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana and Mexico enjoy a long history of economic and social exchange. Through this trade mission, we hope to create new opportunities for all parties involved, and to further establish Louisiana’s leadership role in the global economy.”

The mission will focus on various economic fronts, including energy, infrastructure, construction and commercial development, environmental and coastal management, maritime and ports, agriculture and agribusiness, education and academic collaboration, and healthcare.

Mexico ranked as Louisiana’s top export market in 2019, with $8.4 billion in total Louisiana exports of petroleum, agricultural, chemical and other products. Mexico also is a leading importer into Louisiana, with $2.4 billion in imports of oil and gas, transportation equipment, primary metal manufacturing, chemicals and more. Mexican companies have made recent project-related, foreign direct investments resulting in over $200 million in capital expenditures and more than 450 new direct jobs in Louisiana.

Businesses participating in the trade mission may qualify for financial support through the Louisiana State Trade Expansion Program. Information is at OpportunityLouisiana.com/small-business/special-programs-for-small-business/step-grant.