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Serving up art, hope, faith — and good food

 
Serving up art, hope, faith — and good food
PASCALLE BIPPERT Claudia Hoover’s artistry extends even to the desserts at the Coyote Café.

When La Vernia diners eat at the new Coyote Café, they can expect to get served more than just a meal. Along with food for their tummies, the Coyote Café offers food for their souls.

Local restaurateur Lance Troutman serves lunch and dinner, but he also serves the Lord, and is happy to share his walk of faith with others. Lance co-owns the Coyote Café with his partner, Claudia Hoover, who is from Bolivia.

“She is the food artist,” Lance said.

Her desserts are very pretty and artfully prepared for diners.

Lance is a textural artist. There isn’t one square inch of the restaurant that hasn’t been adorned or covered with wood, tile, glass, mirrors, or crystal. Lance did all the wood and tile work except the surprise behind the restroom door. Claudia created that with crystals. On one wall diners can see the ends of 2x4 pieces of lumber that have been cut and puzzled together. Another wall is adorned with slices of pecan wood. On yet another, cedar stalks have been mounted horizontally and vertically to create a pattern. There are mosaics of tile, stone, crystal, and mirror. Even the ceiling has bamboo patterns on it.

There is a resounding message in these pieces of art: love.

The man behind it all

Lance came from San Antonio to La Vernia four years ago. An illusionist, he has entertained folks in La Vernia with his card tricks, sleight of hand, and more. At one time, he owned a magic shop in Rivercenter Mall in San Antonio. He also was head of a company that had 250 employees and served offshore oil companies with food and personnel. One day, he learned that his associate had embezzled money from the company. That day changed his life.

“I went from driving an Escalade to riding a borrowed bicycle,” Lance recalled. “I knew I had to find a job, so I looked on Craigslist and saw an opening in La Vernia.”

He rode all the way from San Antonio to Buffalo Joe’s sandwich shop, and got the job.

He also has catered for the oil field industry in the Eagle Ford shale for the past four years.

Lance also acted in a play, “Bubba’s B and B,” written by Shelley Henderson and produced by LV Shoestring Stage Productions.

Now, Coyote Café is his home base.

Creativity and Christ

The restaurant serves simple fare -- fried fish and seafood, salads, and chicken-fried steak. Dessert is always something to look forward to, as Claudia artistically arranges tasty treats.

The environment of the Coyote Café is completely different to any I’ve been to anywhere in these United States. Christian music videos play on three flat-screen TVs. Lance is very proud of that, because he has never seen such music offered in any other restaurant around. Encouraging scriptural passages are framed on the walls, and Lance is only too happy to share some encouraging words with his dinner guests.

“For the first time, I’m not trying to please people,” he said in earnest. “I’m trying to please God.

“People are killing themselves because they don’t know about God’s love.”

He wants people to feel God’s presence when they walk in the door, and the scriptures, service, and ambience achieve that.

Although Lance is very serious about his devotion to the Lord, there are elements of comedy in the décor of the restaurant. A puffer fish is a hanging pendant light, and a deer trophy sports a red Rudolph nose. And Lance and Claudia smile -- a lot.

“We want people to have a good atmosphere, love, and the freedom that God has for them,” Lance said. “Not just get their bellies fed, but their souls, too. I want them to taste and see what the Lord has to give them. I want people to know that there are other people praying for them and lifting them up.”

“Let them experience food and God,” Claudia said. “God is here every day we are open.”

“We base our attitude on Isaiah 61,” Lance added. “To heal the broken-hearted and set the captives free.”

The two said they’d blessed the café and dedicated it to the Lord.

“We are not perfect, but we love the Lord and want to share His love with all who walk through our door,” Lance said.

Coyote Café is located at 13774 U.S. 87 W. in La Vernia, next door to the blue house which is home to Beck Realty. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 8 p.m.

 
 
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