I was honored to sit down with Holly and Eli to discuss their story of Antoni's Italian Café, a beloved culinary gem nestled in the heart of bustling Lafayette, Louisiana. This cherished eatery promises delectable Italian cuisine and a warm and welcoming dining experience. Antoni's is a labor of love, personified by Holly and Eli Cure, the passionate owners who have poured their hearts and souls into creating a restaurant that feels like home.
Holly's journey into the restaurant world began in high school, working as a hostess and falling in love with the vibrant dynamics of restaurant life. Driven by financial necessity, Eli began his career as a teenager, washing dishes at a local pizzeria. Their shared passion for the industry and culinary innovation eventually led them to Antoni's.
The dream of owning a restaurant was always simmering in their minds, and fate intervened when the previous owner, Mr. Bruce, saw potential in them. Holly and Eli took the leap, taking over Antoni's Italian Café and continuing its legacy. Their takeover was not without challenges, but their dedication and seamless blending of personal culinary touches with cherished recipes from the original menu breathed new life into this beloved establishment.
Amidst the cozy ambiance, Holly and Eli shared their favorite dishes, from comforting cheese bread dunked in tomato soup to Eli's innovative pasta creations and the indulgent calzone that holds a special place in his heart. They also spoke of the café's adaptability during the pandemic, navigating challenges with resilience and unwavering commitment to their customers.
For Eli and Holly, Antoni's is more than just a restaurant; it's a place where guests are treated like family. Their dedication to creating a warm and welcoming dining experience sets a high standard, and their hands-on approach ensures that every plate served resonates with the warmth and care of passionate hosts.
Their passion shines through as they recount their joys and challenges, emphasizing the importance of consistency, even in the face of staffing difficulties and financial constraints. The café is a testament to their unwavering commitment to serving their community, one meal at a time.
As the conversation delved into the future, Holly and Eli considered an offer to expand but remained committed to maintaining the café's unique charm and consistency. They acknowledged the roller-coaster nature of the restaurant business, where some days everything falls perfectly into place, while others test your limits.
Their story is an inspiration for aspiring restaurateurs, a testament to hard work, passion, and the unwavering belief in one's vision. As Antoni's Italian Café celebrates its 10th anniversary under their ownership, Holly and Eli express their gratitude to their dedicated staff, each of whom has played an integral role in the cafe's success:
David Billiot, Kitchen Manager, joined the team in 2019.
Brandi Pagitt, Assistant Kitchen Manager, has been with them since 2020.
Danielle Fava, Front of House Manager, who became part of the family in 2021.
Cameron Kidder, Bar Manager, who joined the team in 2021.
Jared Steadman, Key Server since 2020.
Louis Broussard, Key Server since 2022.
Michael Quereau, who has been holding down the Pizza station since 2018.
And, of course, a special thank you to Bruce and Lynda Cart, the OGs, without whom their dream wouldn't have been realized. In every dish and every smile, the heartbeat of Antoni's Italian Café echoes the dedication and passion of Holly and Eli Cure, making it a cherished culinary gem in Lafayette's vibrant food scene.