Louisiana, its economy and the families that live here have close ties to the oil and engineering industries. As the new owner of the Noble Building, we at Empire of the Seed intend to rehabilitate this property as we did the Cash Grocery and Sales Building here in Lake Charles because of its ties to Noble Oil Company and one of the area’s premier engineers, Elmer Shutts, whose crowning achievement was his involvement as one of the visionary founders of the Port of Lake Charles. The Noble Building is currently currently home to Lake Charles home grown Italian restaurant The Villa.
The Noble Building
The property first peaked our interest as C.O. Noble played an integral role in drilling the first oil well in Louisiana as cited in the book, “Early Louisiana and Arkansas Oil: A Photographic History – 1901 – 1946.” A photograph from the book depicts an oil-covered C.O. Noble at a gusher. Their participation along with many others in drilling the first oil well in Jennings led to economic gains in the area for decades to come. Noble Oil Company’s offices remained in the Noble Building from the early to mid-1930s until Empire of the Seed acquired the property in May of 2012.
Upon further research of the building’s past tenants, we discovered the significance of Elmer E. Shutts due to his contributions as the first engineer of the Port of Lake Charles. In the article, “Port of Lake Charles: A Vision for the Future,” writer Shirley Haupt reports that by the time Shutts resigned in 1967, the Port had grown from two transit sheds and wharves at Walnut Grove (City Docks) to six transit sheds and wharves.” His daughter is cited in the article as saying, “The most important thing he did in connection to the Port. He built it.”
Where Rustic Flavors Meet Modern Execution
The Villa Restaurant’s owner, Michael Sperandeo, has been a restauranteur in the Lake Charles, Louisiana area for 20+ years. From 1986 to 2004, he operated The Italian Villa, a beloved local restaurant that featured traditional Italian cuisine.
But times – and tastes – change. The Villa Restaurant is a new kind of eatery, one that combines the authenticity of traditional Italian cuisine with a modern flair. The result is an exquisite dining experience that’s unlike any other in the region.
Amanda Cusey, Executive Chef at Lake Charles’s newest restaurant, the Villa, began developing her passion for food while growing up in the southwest United States. Traveling extensively throughout the US and Europe, Chef Amanda received her Cordon Bleu training at the Tante’ Marie Culinary Academy in Surrey, England.