What’s going on at Le Bistro? I’ve heard that question several times over the past month or so, and I’ve been digging around for some clues. Here is what I found:
Chef Tony Pope’s Le Bistro on Campbell Avenue beside Alejandro’s Mexican Grille has been closed for several weeks now, and that it had a sign on the door for a time that said the staff was on vacation and would return in early June. Obviously, early June is gone.
I called and e-mailed Tony Pope, but received no response. I checked Le Bistro’s Facebook page, but the last activity there appears to be a comment on June 2. I called the restaurant and got a voicemail message saying they would be on vacation for the next two weeks. I left a message for Pope’s business partner, Lewis Gale emergency room physician Robert Dowling, but received no call back.
I talked to Chris Goodman, Special Agent in Charge of the Roanoke Region of the Virginia ABC, who told me Le Bistro’s ABC license expired in April 2010 and Tony Pope has applied for a new license, but they are now in a “waiting pattern.” Goodman said he believes Dowling has sold his part of the business to Pope, and added that is not a requirement that a restaurant be open during an application process.
Finally, what might be the most interesting nugget of all: A tip that there’s a listing for this business on a website called BuyBizSell, with an asking price of $60,000. The listed agent, Michael Hamlar, could not tell me anything about the circumstances behind the listing, but he did tell me it is current. Just this morning, I was notified that a “for sale” sign has appeared on the storefront.
Some folks have called me to fret about their unredeemed gift certificates to Le Bistro, but I cannot tell them for sure that the restaurant is gone. Is Tony looking to get out entirely or is he looking for a new business partner? Does anybody out there know anything more about this situation?