Plateful of History: Lafayette’s Mom-and-Pop Eateries

In the heart of Lafayette, a city steeped in a rich tapestry of Creole, Cajun, and French influences, lies a collection of beloved mom-and-pop eateries that have become culinary institutions, standing the test of time and serving up not just comfort food but a slice of the region’s history. As per this article from The Daily Advertiser, these establishments, with deep roots in the community, have become fixtures in the local dining scene, each with its unique story and flavors.

One such gem is T-Coon’s, a breakfast haven founded by David Billeaud, a sixth-generation Billeaud from Broussard. With roots tracing back from France to Cajun Country, David, a proud Cajun, drew inspiration from his family’s culinary traditions. In 1993, armed with only his childhood nickname, T-Coon, he embarked on a culinary journey, creating a menu that reflected his Cajun heritage. Omelets filled with succulent pork roast, beef brisket, and homemade Louisiana smoked sausage became breakfast staples.

Over on Johnston Street, Judice Inn stands as a living testament to the timeless appeal of a good burger. Established in 1947 by brothers Alcide and Marc Judice, this family-run joint has been grilling up burgers with a secret sauce and special seasoning for over seven decades. Gerald Judice, Marc’s youngest son, proudly continues the tradition.

The simplicity of their menu, largely unchanged since the beginning, underscores their commitment to quality. Recognized as the purveyor of the “best hamburgers in town,” Judice Inn has garnered accolades from USA TODAY, Southern Living, and locals alike. The restaurant’s fame rests on a hamburger recipe seasoned to the tastes of South Louisianans, complemented by a mysterious secret sauce that elevates the flavor to legendary status.

Meanwhile, Dwyer’s Cafe, nestled in the heart of Lafayette, boasts a legacy that spans generations. Established by Stanley Dwyer in 1965, this family-owned establishment has been a culinary anchor for the Breaux Bridge-Parks area. Initially a cook for the Stinson family, Stanley, alongside his wife Yuline, ventured into entrepreneurship, creating a haven for plate lunches.

The mom and pop eatery exudes warmth, with framed photos of the late Stanley, his son Mike (who took over in 1975), and subsequent generations adorning the walls. Taylor Bergeron, the manager, emphasized the unchanged nature of Dwyer’s recipes, ensuring a consistent, homey experience for both patrons and staff. The lunch specials, ranging from smothered chicken to seafood courses, paint a vivid picture of the timeless offerings that have made Dwyer’s a cherished local haunt.

Venturing into more casual fare, mom and pop eatery,  Olde Tyme Grocery has been making po’boys famous since 1982. Originating as a neighborhood grocery, Glenn Murphree, a transplant from Chalmette near New Orleans, transformed it into a po’boy haven. Now, under the ownership of his son Russ, Olde Tyme Grocery stands as a testament to the enduring charm of a bygone era.

Russ Murphree proudly shares that the restaurant consistently ranks among the best in the state and clinched second place in a USA poll for the best po’boys in Louisiana. The Olde Tyme special, a sumptuous po’boy featuring roast beef, ham, turkey, gravy, and Swiss cheese, has become an iconic representation of their commitment to quality. The restaurant’s counter-service style and open kitchen concept add to its charm, making it a favorite among both locals and tourists.

As we delve into the histories and flavors of these Lafayette establishments, it becomes apparent that their success lies not just in the deliciousness of their offerings but in their ability to encapsulate the spirit of Acadiana. From T-Coon’s dedication to preserving Cajun authenticity to Judice Inn’s unwavering commitment to a timeless burger recipe, and Dwyer’s and Olde Tyme Grocery’s familial warmth and constancy, each restaurant tells a story that extends beyond the plate. In closing, these mom-and-pop treasures are more than just eateries—they are living testaments to the enduring power of community, heritage, and, of course, good food.

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Innovate, Elevate, Thrive: Lafayette’s Startup Resurgence

The vibrant city of Lafayette, Louisiana, is becoming a hotbed of successful startup ventures. This isn’t by chance; there’s a compelling story behind this surge of entrepreneurial activity that’s capturing the attention of both investors and innovators, according to this article from The Advocate.

The journey of Shawn Johnston and Jordy Davidson, the masterminds behind the tech startup Nestor, is a prime example of Lafayette’s growing startup prowess. They devoted two years of their lunch breaks to refining their concept, driven by an unwavering belief in its potential. The turning point arrived when they faced a roomful of investors, all oil industry veterans with a history of backing various ventures. The tension was palpable as they pitched their brainchild, Nestor, to revolutionize health record management.

Nestor, named after a figure from Greek mythology renowned for wisdom, is now on an upward trajectory. Their headquarters are housed within the Opportunity Machine, a business incubator in downtown Lafayette. Nestor is just one piece of the puzzle in Lafayette’s burgeoning tech ecosystem, alongside fellow startups like FlyGuys, hampr, and Keepers. These innovative companies all share a common birthplace – an environment that fosters creativity and collaboration.

The entrepreneurial spirit in Louisiana, despite pandemic-related hurdles, has been a remarkable force. According to the Venture & Angel Capital Report by Cara Stone LLP, last year witnessed over $215 million in venture capital investment and 34 deals, marking the most substantial year since 2011. Lafayette, in particular, has been making waves, with 27 deals since 2011, placing it third in the state’s rankings. The city’s growth owes much to the evolving landscape of talent. The aftermath of Waitr’s rise and fall led to a transfer of skilled professionals to other startups, fortifying Lafayette’s startup community.

The Opportunity Machine, a phoenix that emerged from the ashes of an old nightclub, embodies Lafayette’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurship. From a decrepit building reeking of cigarette smoke to a hub of innovation, the transformation has been profound. Since 2015, startups nurtured here have secured a total of $56 million in capital, showcasing the incubator’s remarkable impact.

Among the gems that have flourished within the Opportunity Machine’s walls are names like Keepers, GloSens, XRMedix, and SafeBoard. Keepers streamlines housekeeping services for short-term rentals, while GloSens pioneers bullet tracer technology. XRMedix employs augmented reality to enhance medical care, and SafeBoard innovates pediatric patient care through a stabilization device. A standout among these stars is FlyGuys, a drone service provider that has expanded its services across numerous states.

FlyGuys, led by CEO Joe Stough, is transforming data delivery through drones, catering to agriculture, real estate, and construction industries. The company’s meteoric rise is fueled by a network of 7,000 drone pilots spanning 48 states. Stough envisions capturing a significant share of the burgeoning data capture market, amounting to billions of dollars.

Interestingly, Lafayette’s startup boom finds a catalyst in the journey of Waitr, once a beacon of hope that later faced challenges. However, its initial success spawned a wave of experienced professionals who channeled their expertise into new ventures. Kyle “Skip” Boudreaux of Acadian Capital Ventures reflects on the evolution, stating, “We’re having a lot more sophisticated startups coming through who really get it. We’re catching up, and you can just see it.” The Lafayette startup narrative is emblematic of innovation, resilience, and growth. From Johnston and Davidson’s unwavering determination to the rise of Nestor, FlyGuys, and other tech marvels, the city’s entrepreneurial spirit is thriving. As this momentum continues, Lafayette’s future as a powerhouse of innovation seems more promising than ever.

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How The Marquis de Lafayette Inspired a Louisiana Town’s Transformation

In Louisiana, the town of Vermilionville underwent a significant name change to become what is now known as Lafayette. As per this research article from The Advocate, the residents were persistent in their desire to honor the Marquis de Lafayette, a renowned French aristocrat, freemason, and military officer. This post explores the story behind this renaming and the historical significance of Lafayette in both American and French history.

The story begins in the year 1824 when a distinguished visitor arrived in the United States. Gilbert du Motier, famously known as the Marquis de Lafayette, graced the American shores. A nobleman, military officer, and a key figure in both the American and French Revolutions, Lafayette held a special place in the hearts of many. His heroic efforts during the Revolutionary War and his influential role in French history made him a revered figure.In a gracious gesture, President James Monroe invited Lafayette to return to the United States as “the guest of the nation,” covering all his expenses. This invitation marked the beginning of a yearlong tour that would take Lafayette to various states, including the captivating land of Louisiana. The people of Louisiana eagerly anticipated his visit due to their strong French connections.

Meanwhile, nestled along the banks of a river, Vermilionville began to take shape. Founded in 1824, the town was named after the river that flowed through it. However, the residents had a grander vision. They wished to honor Lafayette by renaming their town after him. Unfortunately, their aspirations were met with a roadblock. Another town in Louisiana had already claimed the name Lafayette, thanks to a rule that prohibited multiple places within the same state from sharing identical names. So, where was this first Lafayette located? Surprisingly, it was situated in the enchanting Garden District of New Orleans. Today, if you wander through the neighborhood, you may stumble uponLafayette Cemetery, a testament to the town’s bygone existence. In 1852, New Orleans incorporated the original Lafayette, transforming it into a faubourg, or neighborhood, within the city. This change paved the way for Vermilionville’s long-awaited name alteration.

Finally, in May of 1884, Vermilionville officially became Lafayette. The residents’ unwavering determination had paid off. Professor Michael Martin, a history expert from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, sheds light on the town’s name change, explaining, “Lafayette was so popular that his name became synonymous with numerous cities and counties throughout the nation.” Indeed, Lafayette’s legacy had left an indelible mark on American soil.

During his time in Louisiana, Lafayette had also visited New Orleans and Baton Rouge. His presence in the state is commemorated by a plaque marking his stay in the Tessier Building on Lafayette Street in downtown Baton Rouge. The intricate ironwork adorning the galleries of this historic house mirrors the ornate beauty of New Orleans’ famed French Quarter.

Fast forward to the present day, and the parish is commemorating its bicentennial, marking 200 years since its establishment in 1823. The celebration serves as a tribute not only to the parish’s rich history but also to its diverse cultural heritage. Throughout the year, a series of events, including festivals and music gatherings, will honor the bicentennial. Sami Parbhoo, the coordinator of the celebration, emphasizes the significance of this milestone, stating, “All of our events during the year, including our festivals and music events, will be celebrating the bicentennial in some way.”

Today, the city stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of a remarkable individual who left an indelible mark on the history of both France and the United States. From its lively music scene to its mouthwatering cuisine, Lafayette continues to captivate visitors from near and far.

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UL Lafayette Geosciences Team named Top Oil Prospectors

Recently, a group of geosciences students from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette competed in the 2023 North American Region Competition, where they were named the best team of students in North America who can determine where to drill for oil, according to this feature article from the University.

UL Lafayette’s team of competing geosciences students included Savana Anderson, Peyton Dardeau, Margaret Dittman and Abigail Watson, also known collectively as the University’s Imperial Barrel team. The team’s faculty advisor was Dr. David Oppo, an assistant professor in the School of Geosciences. This four-student team, which consisted of both undergraduate and graduate students,  placed first for the Imperial Barrel Award for the 2023 North American Region Competition, which is a competition for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

Dr. Carl Richter, Associated Dean of Ray P. Authement College of Sciences and Professor at the School of Geosciences, spoke about the team saying, “this doesn’t place the School’s teams in exclusive company. It’s more like a private club. Over the years, the teams achieved a level of preeminence that’s not likely to be equaled anytime soon. It reflects the quality of students the School of Geosciences attracts and the strength of our graduate program.”

The American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ competition functions as a competitive showcase for students to collaborate as they analyze industry data, make key determinations about energy resources, and make vital decisions about sustainable extraction methods. Because the University’s Imperial Barrel team won the North American Region competition after winning the Gulf Coast sectional, they will be coming on to the world competition.

Last year, the ULL’s Imperial Barrel team placed second in the world and have won the overall event three times in the past: in 2012, 2014, and 2018. It should be noted that they are the only team to claim the title of “world’s best” three times in the history of the award.

The competition involved the students analyzing real datasets including information on basin’s geology, petroleum system elements, geophysics, and production infrastructures over the course of eight weeks. Throughout the competition, the four team members used state-of-the-art technology, received feedback from industry advisors, and networked with potential employers. The competition’s main goal includes identifying a prospective oil reservoir and determining its overall viability. The team then reports its verdict during a 25 minute presentation to industry experts, who then select a winner based on technical quality, clarity, and the originality of the presentation.

Joey Grimball was a previous winner for UL Lafayette during the 2012 competition, and he had the following to say about his involvement in the competition and the impact it has had on his career: “the IBA experience has been the culmination of my coursework at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. By using the knowledge we attained from previous courses we as a team were able to put together a prospect evaluation starting at the Basin analysis level with the understanding of regional geology, paleogeography, maturation of the source rocks, trapping mechanisms, reservoirs and seals in our area.

These past three months we have grown as individuals and gained insight into how real world petroleum prospectsare put together. Through our interaction with Industry professionals and advice given to us through our Advisor we have a better understanding of how Industry operates. Also the presentation skills along with the networking that we have been able to do through this process have added up to be the best experience of my academic career. I hope to be a part of the IBA experience for years to come.”

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Study Names Some Louisiana Cities Among Best in the Nation for Remote Work

It was recently announced that two Louisiana cities were named among the top five small cities in the country for remote work, according to this article from The Daily Advertiser. The study, which comes from Forage, named Lafayette, Louisiana as the fourth-best city for remote work and Metairie, Louisiana as the fifth-best city for remote work.

The study that placed Lafayette and Metairie as the fourth and fifth best small cities in the nation for remote work was from Forage, the virtual platform website that has been connecting over 1.7 million students with potential careers at over 100 companies since 2017. Forage was able to determine a city’s placement for the remote work rankings by looking at a town’s actress to high-speed internet, library funding, and a variety of other lifestyle factors.

For its rankings, the Forage study analyzed data from over 130 metropolitan statistical areas of a certain size. All of the metro areas looked at for the study had populations between 100,000 and 200,000 people. The factors analyzed for the study included the combined aircraft and road noise levels that are perceived within the city’s limits, a city’s percentage of residences that had high-speed internet access, the city’s public library funding, the percentage of residents spending 30% or more of their income on housing, and the unemployment rate. Additionally, the study also took into account the median listing price of homes on the market, real estate price levels compared to the national price level, the number of arts, entertainment, and recreation businesses per 10,000 residents, and the amount of non-alcoholic beverage bars or coffee shops per 10,000 residents.

With these factors considered, the cities of Lafayette and Metairie topped the list as the fourth and fifth best small cities for remote work. According to the study’s data and findings, approximately 94.9% of Lafayette’s residences have access to high-speed internet, its noise level was registered at a grade of 40.85, which is higher than 68% of the cities analyzed for the study. Meanwhile, Metairie’s noise level was graded at 14.2% and its registered access to high-speed internet was at an impressive 99.4%, which was the highest percentage of all cities in the study. The study had named Davenport, Iowa as its top small city for remote work; Carmel, Indiana was ranked as 2nd in the nation, and Topeka, Kansas was 3rd in the nation.

In its simplest form, remote work is the ability to do your job from anywhere. This can mean working from home, a coffee shop, or even another country. As long as you have an internet connection, you can be a digital nomad and work from wherever you want. The rise of remote work has been made possible by advances in technology, particularly the internet and cloud-based applications. With these tools, it’s possible for businesses to have a fully distributed workforce with employees working from different locations. There are many benefits of remote work for both employers and employees. For businesses, it can lead to increased productivity and creativity, as well as lower overhead costs. For employees, it offers greater flexibility and freedom when it comes to where and how they work.

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has been on a steady increase in popularity, but it was already gaining traction prior to the pandemic. There are a few reasons why remote work has become more popular in recent years. First, the internet has made it easier for people to connect and communicate from anywhere in the world. Second, advances in technology have made it possible for people to do their work from anywhere with a computer and an internet connection. Third, the global economy has made it easier for companies to hire employees from different parts of the world. Finally, the rise of the gig economy has made it easier for people to find short-term or freelance work that can be done remotely.

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Unveiling Ceremony Held at Lafayette’s Moncus Park Veterans Memorial

Lafayette’s newest park, Moncus Park, recently held a ceremony to unveil its Veterans Memorial, according to this article from The Daily Advertiser. The unveiling featured an opening ceremony, ribbon cutting, and several guest speakers who commemorated the Veteran’s Memorial, a project that has been 6 years in the making.

The Moncus Park Veterans Memorial, which was unveiled at a September ceremony that had over 200 people in attendance, is located in front of the park in close proximity to Johnson Street. The memorial itself consists of several large tablets that commemorate United States military involvement in 13 major conflicts. Each tablet is designed with a 400-word history of each war, thus giving contextual perspective to those observing the memorial. Nearby the tablets are brick pavers and seat walls that recognize local veterans and their families.

The founder and Director of Growth and Strategy of the Acadiana Veteran Alliance, Andrew Ward, commented on the memorial at the unveiling by saying, “every city, every town, every parish should have something dedicated to the men and women that gave their lives and their selfless service to our country. This is just a welcome addition; to have this here in central Moncus Park as kind of a shining light is remarkable.”

Moncus Park’s Veterans Memorial Unveiling Ceremony had over 200 people in attendance, and among the honored guests were Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who served as a captain in the U.S. Army, Louisiana Secretary of Veterans Affairs Ret. U.S. Army Col. Joey Strickland and Lafayette Parish Mayor-President Josh Guillory, who served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

In speaking about the ceremony, Governor Edwards said, “we need to make sure that we appreciate and thank our veterans every day and not just wait until Veterans Day. What a tremendous asset this park is, that this memorial is to Lafayette and to Acadiana.”

According to Co-Chairman of the Veterans Memorial Founding Committee Dr. Jon “Skip” Palmintier, it took a total of six years’ worth of planning to bring the memorial to light. Dr. Jon “Skip” Palmintier, who served as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Medical Corps, explained that the memorial was designed to be able to fit in the park, be independently beautiful as well, be accompanied by a spirit of peace, and to recognize the sacrifices made by military veterans.

Outside of the unveiling, the ceremony served as a way to honor and recognize those who worked on the landmark from its initial concept to bring it fully to fruition, and it also honored the service members the landmark is designed to appreciate.

In his remarks, Dr. Jon “Skip” Palmintier said, “We are here and this is our veterans’ park, which celebrates anybody that signed their name and joined the armed forces. I can’t tell you how much it means, not only now, but because it’s going to be here for many, many more years to come and we’re hoping that this is just the beginning of programs that we’ll have here for teaching.”

Dr. Palmintier also revealed that the Moncus Park Veterans Memorial will be added as a location on the Veterans Memorial Trail. Additionally, a phone app will be released soon so that those who visit the memorial may learn more about the history of those honored.

Closing the ceremony was the founder of the Acadiana Veteran Alliance Andrew Ward, who served in the U.S. Armyduring Operation Iraqi Freedom. Ward said, “It’s not just to learn about the different pieces of war that make up our history in America. But what you’re supposed to do is really reflect and take in and understand the meaning and the passion and the sacrifice that folks like us gave.”

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