Restaurant and/or wine bar ownership has always been a vision for Cheryl ("CJ") Johnson, creator of Cheryl Johnson Promotions. Recently, an unexpected business opportunity fell in her lap Cafe du Bois in Kingwood. "The Cafe provides the best of both worlds to me," she said. "Owning Cafe Du Bois was quite an unexpected opportunity, where the availability and the handshake literally happened in the matter of a few hours." Johnson said it has been somewhat of a whirlwind from that point forward. "I was lucky enough to be able to renew my previous business partnership with my dear friend Tony Austin, who partnered with me in another business venture seven years ago." Johnson and Austin started an adventure as the new owners of Cafe du Bois, and they are excited to offer the best possible casual, fine dining experience with an international flavor to the community. Johnson began her career by handling corporate Christmas parties for her husband's companies. She also executed fundraisers for the Republican Party in Illinois, which included dinners for up to 600 people. Typically, several political dignitaries and celebrities were on the guest lists, according to Johnson. "These experiences gave me the knowledge and skills to design and orchestrate uncountable fundraisers for civic and charitable organizations through the years," she said. Johnson's entrepreneurial and business sense led her to create Cheryl Johnson Promotions, which offers an array of services, including event promotions, public relations and social media marketing. "We plan corporate and private parties, organize and run political campaigns, handle restaurant and store grand openings, Realtor open houses and charitable fundraisers, among other things," Johnson explained. In addition, Johnson has been recognized for her "over the top" annual New Year's Eve and Halloween parties. According to Austin, when Cafe du Bois first opened its doors 13 years ago, there was an attempt to create somewhat of a Chez Nous version in Kingwood. That idea was never a reality, he said, and as the new owners, he and Johnson would like the community to know that the current cuisine is considered to be an international or continental casual fine dining experience, not predominately French. At Cafe du Bois, Austin and Johnson strive to serve a variety of dishes, from lighter soup/salad/sandwich lunches, to more substantial dishes, such as the chef's famous Chilean sea bass, chateaubriand, pork osso bucco with gremolata and luscious chocolate or Grand Marnier souffls for dessert. She explained that Chef Arturo Escobar creates "specials" each month which include an appetizer, salad, soup, entre and dessert. Cafe du Bois has a quiet, serene atmosphere with its main dining room "art gallery" and its "sun room," which overlooks the patio, the herb garden/butterfly sanctuary, and the adjacent Park at Town Center. "This is the place, perhaps the only in Kingwood, where it is possible to dine and converse without raising your voice or straining to hear the person sitting next to you," said Johnson. "However, we also offer a lively atmosphere on certain nights. For instance, our Party on the Patio every Thursday features talented vocalist Pamela Saxon." "The executive chef exploits a variety of international flavors and styles to offer anything from European dishes and sauces to American Bistro styles. For example, the Saturday breakfast features a selection of authentic Mexican favorites, alongside the usual continental and American choices," she said. Special events at Cafe du Bois include wine dinners and tastings, as well as twice-monthly musical tributes performed by songstress Saxon. "In addition, we feature two accomplished guitarists, Brian Turner and Danny McKnight, on Friday and Saturday evenings and are now offering a 'Wine Diva' Happy Hour every Monday from 4 - 7 p.m.," she said. "Other new and exciting events are in the planning stages, such as the upcoming 'Tutored Tastings,' which are basic Wine 101 tasting sessions, where the wine is included, and 'Murder Mystery' dinners on certain Sundays." While Cafe Du Bois offers a selection of international and American wines, some of them are exclusive, and are not available through typical channels, such as liquor and wine stores, but only through boutique distributorships and wineries. "In the very near future, guests will be able to purchase bottles of our special wines to take away to enjoy," Johnson said, and further explained that catering is available at Cafe du Bois, as well. "Chef Arturo and staff can uniquely satisfy special menu requests when planning a private party or event for a client in our dining rooms or catering to another venue," she continued. "Lunch and dinner is available Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. 9 p.m. The very popular Saturday Breakfast begins at 8:30 a.m., and Sunday Brunch is offered from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m." Johnson and Austin feel that Cafe Du Bois is a well-established, fine-dining venue and a Kingwood treasure. "The walls of the two dining rooms are graced with many paintings from local artists, all members of Lake Houston Area Artists, formerly known as The Kingwood Art Society. The charming outdoor dining patio and gardens are reminiscent of European counterparts, and can be quite a romantic dining experience in the evenings," said Johnson. "Location is everything, and Cafe Du Bois is easily found in Kingwood's Town Center near the intersection of Kingwood Drive and West Lake Houston Parkway." Johnson offers this advice: "For those who say, 'I wish there was a restaurant where we could go and talk,' this is the place! Cafe du Bois is located at 2845A Town Center Circle West, Town Center in Kingwood. For reservations and more information, call 281-360-2530 or visit their website at www.cafedubois.com; and join the e-mail list to receive notifications of upcoming events. Photo: Cheryl "CJ" Johnson and Tony Austin are excited to be the new owners of Cafe du Bois in Kingwood, which fulfills a long-time goal for Johnson. Photo by Trilla Cook

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