While the restaurant Les Grands Buffets will leave Narbonne, its founder Louis Privat explains his decision and gives details on the future project he wishes to carry out in another city. Interview.
The boss of the Grands Buffets, Louis Privat, wants to move his gargantuan establishment, installed for 33 years in the sports complex of Narbonne. The announcement of this decision had the effect of a shock wave on the city. The founder of the restaurant, which welcomes nearly 700,000 visitors a year, has planned to speak on the subject during a press conference on this subject on Tuesday August 9. In the meantime, he has agreed to answer questions from La Dépêche du Midi.
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How long have you been making the decision to leave Narbonne?
For a very long time. But you can imagine that we do not decide to leave lightly, especially when we have just made an investment of 5 million euros (to create new rooms and embellish the restaurant, editor’s note). This decision seemed intellectually impossible to me. But I realized that the conditions were no longer met to work calmly and continue to move forward. There was a cumulative effect.
What are the main problems you face?
Grand Narbonne does not respect its commitments as a lessor. For years, I have been asking for accommodations in the parking lot, for example. In the absence of renovation of the reception hall, there are water infiltrations. If it rains, people slalom between the buckets and slide on the ground. The disabled lift has been out of order for years. He remains deaf to these requests. In the absence of air conditioning, in some dining rooms, the temperature exceeds 30 degrees. We get ripped off on social media. It is public abuse. I can’t bear to receive notices of dissatisfaction from customers for which I have nothing to do.
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How are you feeling today?
I’m angry, but I also feel liberated from a hostile environment. I no longer want to be confronted with this permanent hostility and this immobility.
Several cities have said they are ready to host the Grands Buffets. Do any of them have your preference?
It was a big surprise to see the level of interest and the commitment we are generating. In Perpignan, the professional chambers have mobilized to give us a warm welcome. The attitudes of Carcassonne and Béziers were equally remarkable. The Department of Hérault, the City of Montpellier and the town hall of Castelnaudary also came forward. We know we have solutions, it’s up to us to assess them. The file must mature. It is essential that the teams can follow me as much as possible. I want at all costs to have a reflection with the Region as well.
You mention a new project, with a hotel and a market for regional products. How was it born in your mind?
I’ve been thinking about adding shops to the restaurant for a long time, as well as a hotel. For this new project, which is estimated at 30 million euros, we will need institutional and private financial partners. We can rely on a private French group, which has a high-level hotel department. We still have many questions to resolve but I am not worried about our ability to rally partners to create a major tourist pole.
So the hour of retirement has not yet struck for you?
No, why would you? (laughs) A year ago, I never would have imagined doing this. The restaurant had reached maturity, I had finished writing the customer journey. But I want to draw a line. The fate of the Grands Buffets is no longer in the hands of Didier Mouly (the president of Grand Narbonne, editor’s note), whatever he does.
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