With the restaurant industry getting its groove back and people hunting for their new favorite spot, healthier eating and eclectic ambiance are a priority for the nation’s dining public. Riding that wave, Le Colonial, a high-end Vietnamese eatery, has opened their newest location in Delray Beach, FL, adding to their national footprint. Le Colonial’s remarkable success can be attributed to several key factors that have propelled the restaurant chain’s growth.
Le Colonial’s recipe for success has been built on several key ingredients. “Our restaurants feature a romantic and warm, atmosphere combined with unique cuisine to create an experience that sets it apart from other restaurants,” noted Rick Wahlstedt, restaurateur and co-owner of Le Colonial.
Wahlstedt’s story reflects the opportunity that the restaurant and foodservice industry offers a visionary entrepreneur. Originally from Sweden, he worked his way up in the service industry, from a waiter to a maître d’ in some of the most well-respected restaurants in New York City. He then co-founded Le Colonial some 30 plus years ago. For the past three decades, Wahlstedt and his team have built a brand that celebrates the ambiance and cuisine of 1920’s Saigon. While each of the restaurants feature those French influences, local patrons are greeted with a slightly different concept including unique menus, colors, and design.
“We are known as the grandfather of lounges, and we understand that the dining room customer and the bar patron are looking for a very different experience in many cases,” Wahlstedt detailed. The original Le Colonial had a proper posh dining room, with a lounge and bar on the second floor. At the time, this was unheard of, and Wahlstedt reflects on how going out of the norm made people question his legitimacy in the restaurant industry. “I remember my colleagues came to visit the construction site and said I was out of my mind, and I was never going to succeed.”
They were wrong, as Le Colonial thrived and began to expand and open more places. They continued to open in the same fashion, with the original owners expanding their ideas into new locations, taking advantage of the ambiance in the city they’re in. “Going back thirty years, all of the restaurants are single units, so you never get the feeling that you are eating in a chain restaurant,” Wahlstedt added.
There are four more locations on the way with Naples, FL coming soon, Cherry Creek/Denver after that, and then additional East Coast expansion. They plan to “grow from eight restaurants to fifteen by 2029,” Wahlstedt continued.
The commitment to creating a unique local experience is reflected on Le Colonial’s approach to its menus. The new Delray Beach eatery is incorporating more seafood dishes in their menu. “We emphasize farm to table Vietnamese fare,” Wahlstedt outlined. “To accomplish that goal, we work closely with local farms.”
Le Colonial prides itself on being adaptable to all lifestyles, offering many plant-based, vegan, and pescatarian options while focusing on light, healthy cuisine in their menu. and elegant decor with enjoyable, healthy food.
In order to accomplish its “local” culinary goals, Le Colonial has built an experienced culinary management team. Hassan Obaye, who serves as culinary director and Chef Nicole Routhier collaborate on menus, with Wahlstedt. “We still offer 20% of the original recipes including very popular Red Snapper on the menu from when we opened. Our food and design have lasted the test of time.”
Le Colonial has been around for over thirty years and continues to thrive. Atmosphere and quality food is a key to their success, as well as the cohesiveness that follows the iconic chain. With high end, farm to table dining and a fun, specific theme, the nation’s most discerning dining patrons continue to find their Le Colonial timeless.
Learn more about Le Colonial and their locations at their website.