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“A win-win agreement”: Les Grands buffets, the largest restaurant in France, will remain in Narbonne

“Excellent news: Les Grands Buffets remains in Narbonne! » In a video published this Friday noon on his Facebook page, Bertrand Malquier, the mayor of Narbonne and president of the agglomeration, appears in front of the establishment, alongside Louis Privat, the director.

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“A win-win agreement”: Les Grands buffets, the largest restaurant in France, will remain in Narbonne

“Excellent news: Les Grands Buffets remains in Narbonne! » In a video published this Friday noon on his Facebook page, Bertrand Malquier, the mayor of Narbonne and president of the agglomeration, appears in front of the establishment, alongside Louis Privat, the director. “For many months, we worked on an agreement which foreshadows the future of this flagship facility in the region,” says the councilor, before giving the floor to Louis Privat. “The quality of our discussions, the project and its ambition completely convinced me that the future of Les Grands Buffets was in Narbonne, within the Espace de Liberté. » After a year and a half of turmoil and uncertainty for the largest restaurant in France and its 200 employees, a “happy end” seems to be looming.

The affair began on July 29, 2022. In the heart of the Aude summer, Louis Privat, the boss of Grands Buffets, seems determined to send everything packing. Citing a conflict with the Greater Narbonne agglomeration, owner of the complex where his 1,200 square meter restaurant is located, he announced his move. The earliest would be best. Broken air conditioning, waterproofing problems, parking in a “lamentable” state… To hear it, the boat is taking on water from all sides. The agglomeration, then chaired by Didier Mouly, responded point by point, being surprised by such virulence, while a multi-year plan of 12 million euros aimed at developing the site, has just been voted on. The breakup seems confirmed.

Sensing their interest, the surrounding towns rushed to the file, eager to attract this behemoth, a French restaurant with the highest turnover, serving nearly 400,000 seats each year. Béziers, Perpignan, Carcassonne, Castelnaudary suddenly have the eyes of Chimène for the venerable institution. Louis Aliot says he is ready to “propose solutions to find the setting in Catalonia that will suit the reputation of this temple of good food”. Régis Banquet, the president of Carcassonne Agglo is already talking about “a second City” in his city. The months pass, the meetings follow one another, as do the communications via media. Louis Privat is ready to play the game, he intends to raise the stakes. Some cities, faced with urban planning and financial constraints, end up throwing in the towel.

Finally, after all this agitation - which had calmed down in recent months - the move was canceled. It is even “with great enthusiasm and without hesitation” that Louis Privat says he wants to stay in his hometown. How did the Narbonne idyll between the town and the Grands Buffets take off again? Was Louis Privat bluffing for a year and a half, hoping to obtain greater guarantees from Greater Narbonne? Did he ever have the ambition to leave his city, with all the logistical constraints that this would entail?

The arrival of a new mayor Bertrand Malquier, succeeding Didier Mouly, who died after several months of illness last October, may have allowed discussions to continue in a more peaceful tone. A “win-win agreement” would have been concluded between the two parties, the contours of which will be clarified next week. Will it be as pharaonic as the ambitions displayed by Louis Privat, who dreams of a hotel and a large grocery store adjoining the Grands Buffets?

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