Southeastern Alumnus opens bistro downtown

Some say returning home is nice. For Monty Lunn this was not the case. Born and raised in Hammond, Lunn returned home for a funeral of his step-brother and former business partner Jimmy Tricou. Fate stepped in and Lunn quickly turned his negative into a positive. The exciting events that unfolded from the service, almost eight months ago, to now were completely by chance. His namesake business Monty’s Bar and Bistro offers an intimate European bistro atmosphere with classic Southern flare.
Monty’s genesis was completely serendipitous, however. Even though he always wanted to open a restaurant in his retirement, he never planned on it being in his hometown, and he certainly never planned for it to be his fourth business in Downtown Hammond.
Some of the after service for Tricou’s funeral was at the Crescent Bar and, at the time, the space next door was just about to close. Within four months, what had previously been Pier 112 and Louie and the Redheaded Lady, 112 W. Thomas Street became Lunn’s new project.  He and his wife now call Hammond their new home, after moving from New Orleans.
After traveling through cities like San Francisco, New York and Philadelphia as a legal consultant “it’s been great being back,” said Lunn. “I see people I haven’t seen in 45 years, and people have been really supportive. It’s been fantastic.”
Lunn attended the University of Southwestern Louisiana for a year in pre-law (now University of Louisiana at Lafayette) but ultimately decided to make his way back home to Southeastern. The former English major spent his time playing rugby, going to school and managing his three business in Downtown Hammond.
GEF’S was Lunn’s first restaurant he opened with step-brother Tricou in 1979 and they served gourmet sandwiches with quirky menu names. As life would have it, Monty’s location is right across the street from GEF’S former location, Mariner’s Inn. During the late 70s he also opened two bars in downtown. Where Mannino’s Pharmacy stands on N. Oak Street used to be a The Loose Ruck, a rugby bar and pub. Where the karate studio is next to Augustine’s Bar used to be a bar named The Red Lion. Lunn bought that bar from the previous owner.
“It was kind of a hippie, cowboy, biker bar,” said Lunn. “Jimmy Buffett [played sometimes]. He’s always had the Coral Reefer Band, well the Coral Reefer Band at the time was one guy named Roger [Bartlett] so it was just the two of them on acoustic guitar. They’d play pretty much every college bar between here and Florida.”
Lunn’s business mind has lent him a helping hand in crafting Monty’s menu and atmosphere, which creates a bridge between what is currently available downtown.
The casual ambiance and wide menu selection allow guests to have their own unique experience. Freshly ground burgers on homemade buns are “the best in town,” said Lunn. There’s gumbo, red beans and rice and po-boys to cater to the Southern crowd, made with locally caught and grown ingredients. Monty’s also has a vast wine selection, rib eye steaks and Covey Rise quail among many other menu items. There is something for all ages and all pallets at Monty’s.
“We wanted it to have a real nice ambiance here,” Lunn said, “with real good service and reasonable prices. You can come here and make your experience what you want it to be.”
Ironically Lunn was not a business major but some advice to students wanting the career like his, “Make sure you’ve got a good business plan and that you’re adequately funded,” said Lunn. “If you haven’t worked in this industry, it’s not a regular job. It’s total commitment. It has its own life.”
Currently, his life also runs into the late hours of the night and early morning. Monty’s bar stays open until 2 a.m. and offers a special late-night menu: freshly ground beef sliders, build-your-own omelets and pecan waffles just to name a few. Every Friday and Saturday nights there is live music and drink specials, and the Thursday night special of a burger and a beer for $8 will keep your wallet heavy for the weekend ahead.
Working in a restaurant requires a lot of commitment, and it’s the constant flow of guests experiencing his vision that keeps him going strong everyday.
“I really like interacting with the people,” Lunn said. “If somebody leaves here having had the experience we try to provide, it just makes my day. When everything’s clicking, and everything is working, it’s like having them in your home.”
Follow Monty’s on Facebook and Twitter. For specials and events use #MeetMeAtMontys