One measure of a restaurant is years in operation. Another is years in operation at the same location. Bistro Le Cep can claim longevity in both. This authentic French restaurant has been a Houston favorite at 11112 Westheimer Road for 21 years.
Bistro Le Cep represents the American dream. Founding Chef Joe Mannke grew up in Pomerania (a German province that is now in Poland) and had to flee his village because of World War II. Manke eventually settled in Houston, opening Rotisserie For Beef and Bird in 1978. After 23 years at Rotisserie, Chef Joe decided to open Bistro Le Cep, selling it later to his loyal employee Oved Salmeron who started as a busboy at Rotisserie when he was 19 and later became manager. Sadly, Oved passed away earlier this year and has left the restaurant to his family, including daughter Karla, who has been running it since his passing.
Staff satisfaction solidifies customer loyalty
Behind every successful operation is a loyal team who know their diners and can drive customer satisfaction. An unhappy team can be inefficient and offer poor service. You won’t find this at Bistro Le Cep. General manager Karla Salmeron’s veteran team is a point of pride.
“Since our opening, three of our four waiters have been working with us for all 21 years and the last waiter we hired was in 2006 – which we consider to be a rookie even after 15 years,” Salmeron said with a laugh. “Our cooks have also been the same since opening Bistro Le Cep and were taught by Chef Joe Mannke,” added Salmeron.
Salmeron describes the restaurant’s customers as extremely loyal, which has fueled the establishment’s long run. “The restaurant business isn’t easy and it’s truly a blessing that with the support of our very loyal customers that we have been operating this long and survived a pandemic where many small businesses closed down,” said Salmeron. “We strive for excellent customer service always.”
“We have some customers that have been coming here since opening day to even some customers who have been coming since Rotisserie for Beef and Bird was opened,” said Salmeron. “We have so many loyal regulars we see the same day every week and enjoy when we see new faces who discover our hidden gem of a restaurant.”
Iconic Daisy makes location easy to find
“Westchase District is the perfect location because it’s in the middle of Houston and accessible from Katy where a lot of our customers live,” said Salmeron. Westheimer is a busy road. If you need to find Bistro Le Cep, look for its iconic cow. “We are a French Country Cooking restaurant and that’s where the cow comes in and why you will also see some roosters and chickens inside,” Salmeron. “The cow’s name is Daisy and it’s a good way to get the attention of those driving by. We get many people who say they came in to check us out because of the cow.”
Once inside, the ambiance will feel like you’re eating in Lyon while the flavors will reflect the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. The menu is a French country cooking style. “You can find some items you wouldn’t get at a regular restaurant, like our delicious Pot Roasted Rabbit, Pan Roasted Young Texas Hill Country Wild Boar, or our Duck à l’Orange, which is a delicious half roasted duck with a bigarade sauce,” said Salmeron.
For dessert, don’t miss trying the famous rich and creamy Creme Brûlée. “All the items on our menu are the original recipes and renditions Chef Joe Mannke created when he first opened Bistro Le Cep,” said Salmeron.
Bistro Le Cep is open Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 5 – 9 p.m.