Original Story click HERE
It’s not every day you find exceptional food and an incredible story. But I found both when I dined recently at Le Stick Nouveau in the basement of the New Orleans Hotel in Eureka Springs. The name translates into “The New Stick,” because the owners previously ran the longstanding Candlestick Inn in Branson, which was devastated by the 2012 Leap Year tornado.
“The building wasn’t completely destroyed,” said Brandon Cox, who ran the restaurant that was owned by his father and dad’s his wife. “By the time we finally settled with insurance, which was one and a half years later, it was 100 percent destroyed. I told people the tornado was bad, but I’d rather go through 10 more than deal with one more insurance company. There was no way to reopen.”
They weren’t left with enough money to reopen either. So Cox sold real estate and his wife managed a Branson resort until the space in Eureka Springs opened.
I’ll get back to the rest of the story in a minute, but first, the food.
Le Stick Nouveau is cutting edge.
For the first course, we ordered the carpaccio ($9). The carpaccio, which is paper-thin sliced extremely rare beef, is served on a platter and comes out in a dome. The dome is injected with smoke before it arrives at the table and as the waiter lifts the top off in a circular motion, a white cloud of smoke swirls into the air almost like a genie being released from a bottle. The presentation was exceptional. The carpaccio was good, too.
The biggest surprise of the night was the Caesar salad ($9), which blew me away. You don’t usually walk away from a dining experience saying “I’ll never forget that salad,” but that’s how my husband and I both felt.
The atmosphere is elegant, intimate, romantic and fun at the same time. Jake Rogers, who owns the restaurant with Cox and Fontanello, designed it. The “nouveau” in the name has a double meaning: new as in the new restaurant; but the décor is also based on the Art Nouveau movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
And that brings us back to the story.
In 1962, the Campbell family in Branson opened The Candlestick Inn. It went through several owners over the years and in 2007, Jim Cox owned it with 13 partners. He called his son Brandon Cox, who was flipping houses, and asked him to come turn the restaurant around. Cox didn’t want to take over but said his dad “pulled the father card, so I had to.”
Jim Cox bought out his partners, Brandon Cox hired his new girlfriend Donna Fontanello and in December of 2007, they fired everyone and started new. “We wanted to change everything. I mean everything. From the service to the interior design. We changed chefs, the menu, and that is where we met Jake, our partner here. He was the interior designer we had hired to do the Candlestick. We made the place look really beautiful and we forged a friendship,” Cox said.
Brandon and Donna fell in love with each other and the restaurant business. Three years later, they married in Eureka Springs on Monday, celebrated Tuesday, and were back to reopen the Candlestick Inn on Wednesday. “With my wife and I, we became a good team. We realized with the Candlestick, turning it around and running it for 5 years, it’s in our blood. This is what we do and we do it really well,” Cox said. Even when the Candlestick closed, there was no doubt they wanted to reopen; it was just a matter of when and where. As soon as they settled with the insurance company, they moved to Eureka Springs, which was always their favorite getaway.
The result has been even better than they expected, said Fontanello.
They have five stars on Trip Advisor, and many other review websites highly rate the restaurant. They do monthly tasting menus which sell out. Last weekend, they were fully booked. On the weekend, reservations are a must. Fontanello said losing the Candlestick Inn “was like a death. It was devastating.”
But there is new life now in Eureka Springs, and she hopes former customers will try it out.
“Anybody who enjoyed the Candlestick Inn, will enjoy The New Stick,” she said.
Want to go?
Le Stick Nouveau, 63 Spring St. Eureka Springs, Ark. Call: 479-981-3123. Online: www.lestick.com
New restaurant ‘Sticks’ landing
CLICK HERE for original article
Eureka Springs Independent
Wednesday, October 01, 2014
A mysterious video, CLICK HERE, surfaced on Facebook recently: enigmatic shimmers of light dance below the entrance to the New Orleans Hotel, and at the door the Green Fairy herself welcomes you to: Le Stick Nouveau.
Brandon Cox and Donna Fontanello are co-owners of the new fine dining experience, Le Stick Nouveau. Working diligently for the past two months with designers Jake Rogers and Krista Dowlin, Brandon and Donna are set to open Le Stick Nouveau officially on Oct. 11 – but, for the curious, a limited menu is already being served Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. until close.
Brandon discussed the hints the video advert gives potential diners:
“There are a lot of art nouveau themes. We’re not an absinthe bar, but we are drawing on the Green Fairy, who represents the drinking of absinthe. We have a large clientele to bring to Eureka Spring and we’re trying to keep everyone curious.”
And there’s even a hint in the name. Le Stick is the heart of Candlestick, and heart is part of what’s being brought to the table. Locals who have eaten there will be excited to know Brian and Donna previously owned the Candlestick Inn in Branson. The restaurant had been around since 1962 and was owned by Brandon’s father and 13 co-owners whom he eventually bought out and brought Brandon on board.
Brandon began dating his wife, Donna, just before taking over the Candlestick, and the couple eventually married in Eureka Springs. They successfully managed the Candlestick, until, on Feb. 29, 2012, a tornado struck Branson. The phone call Brandon and Donna received altered the course of their lives. The roof of the Candlestick had been torn right off, but because the restaurant was closed that day the only casualty was the business.
It was a trying time for both owners and staff, but serendipity soon stepped in. After the tornado, Brandon, Donna and their designer, Jake, began discussing new restaurant plans. They would often visit Eureka Springs and were soon chomping at the bit to start over. From 2012 on, little by little, things seemed to align perfectly and the team soon found themselves ready to christen Le Stick Nouveau under the New Orleans Hotel.
The lounge area commanded by the massive ornate bar flows easily into a main formal dining area with high backed booths giving the illusion of a private dining experience. An alternate veiled area is fitted for private gatherings and parties of 10 to 22 people for a specialized dining experience. Throughout, a balance of light and dark colors provide as much pleasure for the eyes as the food does for the palate.
Patrons should come hungry and ready for their palates to be flattered. Delicious in both visual and culinary aspects, Le Stick Nouveau delights the senses from your first cocktail to your last savored bite. Beginning Oct. 11 patrons will enjoy a full menu in traditional French preparation, including the former Candlestick’s famous steaks, lobster, shrimp, chicken and beef dishes with desserts du jour.
There is good variety to the ample drinks menu with the aptly named ‘Eurekan’ and the enticing ‘Glassglow.’ If you choose to experiment with a wine that could be described as having ‘hints of bacon,’ you’ll find yourself impressed. Not only is the wine delicious, but also pairs remarkably well with the house-made ricotta ravioli in an artichoke cream sauce or a stacked high chicken roulade. Appetizers such as the haricot vert with tomato coulee are fresh and delicious.
Ah – dessert! Something heavenly came out of the kitchen as a small chocolate orb with Himilayan pink sea salt and a splash of olive oil – Chocolate Cremeux – wonderful!
Friendly wait staff serve food and drinks with an elegance befitting their surroundings. And with clients previously coming to Branson all the way from Dallas simply to enjoy their food, it’s easy to see why Brandon and Donna are optimistic about what they intend to bring to Eureka Springs.
Promising to be nouveau in everything, Le Stick Nouveau offers a fresh take on adult dining. For details and updates visit the Facebook page: Le Stick. For reservations phone (479) 981-3123.