A former bank building in charming downtown Homewood has been transformed into a French-inspired boutique hotel, bistro and bar.
La Banque Hotel and La Voute Bistro and Bar bring gracious hospitality and fine cuisine to Chicago’s south suburbs while retaining the site’s rich past. The former occupant, Great Lakes Bank, stood as a community pillar from 1925 to 2013. New owner and developer Claude Gendreau intends to continue that legacy. At a recent media preview held just days before the grand opening on June 15, 2015, he shared his vision.
“People asked why not build in Chicago? We want to bring Chicagoans to Homewood,” he said.
A few years ago Gendreau, whose heritage is French Canadian, bought and restored nearby Ravisloe Country Club, and then re-opened it to the public. When the bank vacated the building, he saw a need for an upscale hotel to serve business as well as leisure travelers. What he did not care to do was tear down the three-story building and start over, even though he could have put in more than 18 guest rooms if he had. He’s a conservationist at heart.
“I have a passion for restoring historical sites with a modern eco-friendly twist and found this location to be perfect with the growth of Homewood and need for such a beautiful significant landmark,” he said.
La Banque, which translates to “the bank” in French, is appointed with furnishings refined yet comfortable. Deep-hued woods offset a refreshing palette of indigo, slate gray and white. Fanciful artwork adorns the walls while the original vaults and safety deposit boxes weave through the décor.
The guestrooms are lavished with spacious baths, pillow-top mattresses, Egyptian cotton linens, Turkish terry bathrobes, Aveda toiletries, executive workstations, 42-inch flat-screen television with cable, and complimentary wi-fi. Pet-friendly rooms are available. The hotel also offers a private conference room and top-notch fitness center.
The 90-seat La Voute (“the vault” in French) offers bistro classics along with American favorites by award-winning Chef Dominique Tougne in a comfortable bistro setting. French-born Tougne served as chef de cuisine at Bistro 110 in Chicago before opening his own Lincoln Park restaurant, Chez Moi. Chef Thomas Donnelly, also formerly of Bistro 110, oversees daily operations at La Voute.
Over lunch we were treated to several menu highlights. For starters, we indulged in a spring-fresh gazpacho salad and complementary cold soup, an asparagus carpaccio salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar, and a bacon and leek flatbread. Our entrees included braised lamb shank, roasted chicken, and steak au poivre, all accompanied by tender-crisp vegetables. The biggest hit among our group was the scallops bathed in an orange sauce. We ended on a sweet note with raspberry Napoleons and a specially created confection, the Gold Bar, which is dusted with gold powder and gold leaf.
“This is the catalyst for other, bigger projects to come to Homewood,” Gendreau said.
La Banque Hotel
La Voute Bistro and Bar
2034 Ridge Road
Homewood, Illinois 60430