George Banks is following his American dream.
And he’s not letting a pandemic get in his way.
Banks, who opened Tre’Vione’s (“Better Than Good”) in Hawesville last year, will reopen it Friday in Towne Square Mall.
The New Orleans-style restaurant is in the space next to the Frederica Street entrance.
It has a separate entrance from the mall and a patio area.
“This was always my objective,” Banks said Wednesday. “Hawesville was a wonderful pilot place between Evansville, Owensboro and Louisville. And I had customers from all three. But most came from Owensboro.”
He said a lot of people have worries about the mall’s future.
But Banks said he’s impressed with the owners and their plans.
“Ed Ray has very supportive,” he said.
Banks said he grew up in the projects in New Orleans, but joined the U.S. Army, got two master’s degrees and decided to stay in Kentucky after he retired from the Army.
His family scattered all over the country after Hurricane Katrina devastated his old neighborhood in 2005, he said.
Banks’ menu of Cajun and Creole foods includes frog legs, gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, fried chicken wings, etoufee, fried gator tail, crawfish, catfish and shrimp.
But it also includes hamburgers, pork chops, mashed potatoes and other traditional dishes cooked in New Orleans style.
Banks said Creole cooking — red beans and rice — isn’t hot, but Cajun — jambalaya — is.
He said everything is cooked from scratch and he can adjust the spices to a customer’s taste.
“There’s nothing like this around here,” Banks said.
Hours will be from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week for the first month, he said, until he gets his liquor license.
Then, he’ll adjust the hours.
Banks said the coronavirus guidelines are actually helping him open.
“When we opened in Hawesville, we had more people come in the beginning than we could handle well,” he said. “Now, we can only operate a 50% capacity and that will help with our soft opening.”
The restaurant seats 330 normally or 165 now.
A lot of food on the menu is seasonal, Banks said.
Redfish, trout and crawfish all have different seasons, he said.
Banks said one of the women who applied for a cooking job said she hadn’t cooked “foreign food,” when he mentioned the Cajun and Creole dishes.
“Louisiana is part of America,” he said, shaking his head. “Creole and Cajun foods are American food.”
Banks said that as a veteran he wants to honor the servicemen and women who never came back from war.
He’ll have a “missing man” table set up in the restaurant to honor those still missing.
And he wants help from local first responders on a way to honor them.
“Being a black business owner, I want to reach out to the police,” Banks said. “We all have to come together. I want my son to look up to the police.”
The restaurant has 20 on staff, but will need more when seating returns to 100% of capacity, he said.
Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301 firstname.lastname@example.org.