On Tuesday, ROUX Creole, the well-received new restaurant in Laguna Beach, lost founding Chef Norm Theard due to “irreconcilable difficulties” between Theard and investor partners. Theard resigned early Tuesday morning, citing “lack of support and negativity from the owners, causing significant and overwhelming undue stress.” See The Best of Laguna Beach’s Tuesday “breaking news” article here … 

“#1 Restaurant in L.A.” accolades

ROUX Creole opened its doors in the waning days of summer on August 22, 2017. Food critics responded with enthusiasm and respect. As 2017 wound to a close, the largest accolades began rolling in, including The #1 New Restaurant in Los Angeles 2017 by CBS News, #2 New Restaurant 2017 by Orange County Register’s Brad Johnson, and OC Weekly’s Top Restaurants of 2017, to name a few.

On Wednesday this week, ROUX partner Michael Byrne announced that ROUX is no longer, and that a “new concept” restaurant hopes to be re-opening soon. Michael and Cindy Byrne, the long-time locals who partnered with Theard and brought in additional partners to fund the original concept, noted that, “The ownership group at Laguna Eats is tremendously proud of what we accomplished in the development of a top-notch restaurant at ROUX.

“However, there were definitely irreconcilable differences between our partners’ and the Chef about the objectives of the restaurant and its future direction,” they continued. “We need to focus our energy on helping the employees find new work and figuring the path forward for the wonderful space that 860 Glenneyre Street has always been.”

The Byrnes says that the current restaurant will be closed for at least a week as they work to re-invent the space.

Michael Leech to step back in temporarily?

As of today (Friday, Feb. 2nd), Laguna Eats has terminated two ROUX employees, General Manager Lance Martin, who traveled with Chef Theard from the Creole Chef concept originally established in L.A., and Soux Chef Tyler Nix. Two weeks prior, Chef Kevin Crostic, who completed the trio of experienced chefs in the ROUX kitchen, resigned on his own accord in a promotion to sous chef elsewhere.

With all three ROUX chefs now gone, the Laguna Eats partnership turned to an old favorite to boost the restaurant back into activity. On a temporary basis only, Café Zoolu’s former Chef Michael Leech, might be re-entering the place he retired from after 24 years as the owner/operator there.

Fans of Chef Norm and the ROUX authentic Creole cuisine crafted from Chef Norm’s family recipes, say they will wait with hopeful expectation for new announcements from the chef.

Says Greg Smith, a devoted fan who dined at ROUX more than 15 times, “ROUX’s entire concept and food was as unique and authentic “French Quarter” as you’re going to get. Chef Norm is definitely a very rare talent. I can’t wait to find out what his new endeavor will be. No matter where it is, I’ll be the first one in line.”


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