When Michel Buthion went in search of someone to manage his new Buthion Fine Food & Wine Shop, he sought out someone he had worked with 37 years ago. His name is David Ernst and he and Michel first joined forces at the Skirvin Plaza Hotel in 1982.

“I’ve always admired David and we’ve crossed paths over the years, but this was a perfect fit so we’re lucky to have found him,” Buthion said “He’s a person of integrity, he’s very smart and he has a great work ethic. He has helped us in the early stages of developing our new venture, which also includes our expanded Butcherie adjacent to our Bakery Shop and, of course, La Baguette Bistro, which has been here for thirty years.”

It’s all under the same roof, with its landmark Eiffel Tower on top of the building at 7409 North May Ave.

Ernst, who was born and raised in Oklahoma City, said he was excited about the concept when he first spoke about it with Michel Buthion, who has expanded the operation along with his brother, Chef Alain. Their father, Jean, was a well regarded Boucher in the South of France.

“Michel is a visionary,” Ernst said. “He understands what it means to be a restaurateur and he and Chef Alain make a great team.”

Since going to work for John Frank at White House Restaurant in 1977, Ernst has been involved in retail, brokerage and distribution.

The father of five almost-grown and successful children and one grandson, Ernst has very little leisure time. He has no hobbies to speak of other than enjoying a good musical live or on television every now and then. One son, 20-year-old Grey, is studying Musical Drama at Ball State University. David figures Grey must have developed his musical gift from his mom. “Let me assure you, I have no musical talent at all.”

The other children are Everest, 35 (married to Laura), Mitchem, 24 (Civil Engineering at OU), Davis, 22, (studying Physical Therapy at USO), and Delaney, 18, (who is attending UCO and studying Child Development).

“I’m proud of all of them,” Ernst said. “They’ve been raised the way I was; meaning hard work pays off and don’t burn bridges because true friends and family are forever.” He didn’t say it, but it’s obvious that 37-year bridge with Michel is still paying off today.

“I’m certain this is going to be a very popular place,” Ernst said about the entire Buthion complex. “It’s literally full service. Everything you could imagine, from our shop to one of the most popular restaurants in the city, to Bouthion’s Bucherie that features a wide array of specialty meats and take-home food items, to our bakery, which has been here since the Bistro first opened. It’s all here under one roof.”

Or, in this case, one Eiffel Tower.