Sam Gruenig

VIDEO EDITOR

Video by Ashlyn Verda

STAFF WRITER & VIDEOGRAPHER

Ashlyn Verda is from Des Allemands, LA and is majoring in Mass Communication/PR.

There are lots of things one might see when driving through the Bayou Region — gators, bayous, bait shops and airboats. But there is one thing everyone will see while in southeast Louisiana — Rouses Markets, a locally owned, regional grocery store chain since 1960 that’s still in the family. And, unlike many successful families, the Rouse family has no plans to move to a bigger place.

“I love to hunt and fish, and I can do that very close to here,” says Donny Rouse, current Rouses’ CEO and the third generation to run the business. “All our family is here, so our kids growing up with relatives is important to us. We’re very happy in Thibodaux. They get to grow up where I grew up and we’re not looking to go anywhere.”

According to the Rouses, in 2009, the business became the largest independent grocer in Louisiana. Donny Rouse says Rouses sells more Louisiana manufactured products than anyone else in the state.

“That’s really the foundation of our business— supporting local. We do that anywhere. In Louisiana, our stores in Mississippi, and our stores in Alabama,” says Donny Rouse.

Along with typical grocery items and a fresh produce section, the supermarket provides prepared foods, catering options, and even a grocery delivery service. Rouses also has a seafood market, floral services, and a bakery located inside. Some classic Louisiana items include seasonal king cakes, boiled crawfish, and gentilly cakes.

Rouses supports family-owned businesses by working together to deliver quality produce. Among others, they partner with the Garber Family Farm in Iota, LA and father-son farming duo Ben Becnel Sr. and Ben Becnel Jr. in Plaquemines Parish, LA.

The market sells and buys more local shrimp, crab, oysters, fish, and crawfish than anyone on the Gulf Coast. They partner closely with Tommy’s Seafood in Chalmette, LA to help make that possible. The family-owned company supplies wild-caught shrimp, blue crab, oysters, and fish fillets, says Donny Rouse.

In 2012, Rouses announced its very own brand. Their private brand is only sold at Rouses and includes items such as bread, eggs, produce, specialty seasonings, and fresh seafood. According to the Rouses, they work closely with local seafood producers and packagers to create new products. This gives shoppers the opportunity to enjoy seasonal fish any time of year.

It’s Rouses’ commitment to quality, local products that keep customers coming back.

“I started off going to the Thibodaux location and I now travel to different Rouses, depending on where I happen to be,” says Des Allemands native Diane Dufrene, who has shopped at Rouses for the past 30 years. “I sometimes drive up to 30 minutes away, but I don’t mind the trip because I know I’m always getting quality, local groceries.”

Dufrene says she used to go shopping with her mother at Rouses and as she got older, brought her children with her. Now, she brings her grandchildren on her shopping trips.

Almost 60 years ago, Anthony Rouse Sr. and his cousin, Ciro DiMarco, opened a small grocery store in Houma. In 1975, 15 years after opening the Houma grocery store, the cousins opened the first Rouses supermarket about 30 miles away in Thibodaux, LA. Anthony Rouse’s son, Donald Rouse, eventually took DiMarco’s position. Donald Rouse and his brother, Tommy Rouse, worked together in expanding the chain. In 2016, Donny Rouse, the founder’s grandson, became the CEO.

“My whole life, I’ve heard the third generation is the one that causes the business to fail and it’s kind of just what happens in business,” says Donny Rouse. “Just growing up in the business and being a part of it every single day, I don’t want to fail. And we’re not failing.”

Over the past 10 years, Rouses has expanded significantly and is now considered a chain-grocer. According to Rouses, the chain has 62 stores with 52 in Louisiana, three on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and seven in Lower Alabama. The supermarket has three locations just in Thibodaux.

With more than 65,000 employees, the supermarket employs many Southeast Louisiana locals.

Sierra Allen has worked at the Rouses Audubon Ave. location in Thibodaux for the past three years. About seven months ago, Allen was promoted to working in the bakery and deli department.

“I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else right now,” Allen says. “The management here is always willing to accommodate schedules and put you in a position you really want to work in, and that’s why I’m still around. Working in the bakery and especially decorating cakes, is my favorite part. Rouses is so involved in the community and you get to know the customers. I’m proud to work here.”

Rouses isn’t just groceries. Donald Rouse purchased the 100-year-old Peltier House, historic for its Colonial style. According to the Lafourche Parish National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), the house is considered a contributing property for adding to the historical integrity or architectural qualities of Thibodaux. After restoring the property to its former glory, he is now living in the house.

The family also gives back to the community of Thibodaux and the region. Rouses sponsors Nicholls athletics as the organization’s official grocery. They also support local organizations like Upside Down, a nonprofit that helps the Down syndrome community.

And keeping it local, Donny Rouse is looking to his children for the future.

“Business is growing stronger over the last few years,” Donny Rouse says. “It’s exciting because I’m going to want to pass this on to the fourth generation one day.”

Ashlyn Verda

STAFF WRITER & VIDEOGRAPHER

Ashlyn Verda is from Des Allemands, LA and is majoring in Mass Communication/PR.

As you travel through the Bayou Region you will likely see a lot of unique architecture you may have not seen anywhere else. These are several characteristics that you will notice all across the region at plantations, hotels and local businesses.

French doors are one of the most common architectural features in the Bayou Region. Originally, French doors were used on plantation homes in order to allow the breeze to blow through the house on hot summer days. Today, it is very common to see these types of doors on homes and businesses, but they are mainly used because they are reminiscent of traditional southern architecture.

Shutters can be found on many building in coastal regions, including the Bayou Region. These shutters are used to protect windows when hurricanes hit. Even though shutters were originally used for protective purposes, today they are also used for aesthetic reasons. Many homes in this region have shutters for their functionality and for their traditional looks.

Many of the houses and plantations you see will be raised off the ground. They are raised because the Bayou Region is prone to flooding and by raising the living quarters off the ground they are less likely to be affected by the rising waters during a storm. The amount the building is raised can vary from one foot up to several feet.

Large porches can be seen all across the region. These porches can sometimes even wrap around the entire building. These large porches were used for socialization and still are today. With large overhangs over the porch, this was a perfect area for people to relax and still stay relatively cool in the southern heat.

Mainly seen at plantations, large outside staircases were used to move between the upper-level living quarters to the lower level where people typically worked and cooked.

You will see columns on a lot of buildings in the Bayou Region. This style of architecture is reminiscent of Grecian architecture. Columns on homes where an indication of a person’s status. The bigger and more pronounces the columns, the higher that homeowners status within the community. Today, columns are mainly used for aesthetic purposes only.

Ironwork is a very common decorative element that is on the outside of many buildings in the Bayou Region. The ironwork you see in the region is a mix of Spanish and Caribbean architectural design. You can see these designs in many different facets including fences, balconies, and awnings.

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Pecan Pralines
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease with butter. Grease a small spoon for scooping the pralines and set aside with the baking sheet.
  2. Add the 4 tablespoons butter, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, heavy cream and corn syrup to a 2 quart or larger heavy bottom sauce pot with a candy thermometer attached and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Whisk the mixture to dissolve the sugar then allow it to continue to cook until it reaches firm ball stage, 246 degrees °F, for about 3 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool, undisturbed, for 4 minutes.
  5. Add the pecans and vanilla to the pot and using a wooden spoon, beat the mixture vigorously until thickened and the nuts are suspended, about 2 minutes. Working as quickly as you can, portion the pralines with the greased spoon onto the prepared pan. Allow the pralines to cool completely before serving.
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Bread Pudding
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Bourbon Sauce:
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Bourbon Sauce:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place stale bread in a bowl with milk and squeeze the bread with your hand until well saturated with milk.
  3. With an electric mixer on high speed in a separate bowl, beat eggs with sugar until thick and pale. Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter and raisins to the egg mixture. Add the soaked bread crumbs to the egg mixture and stir well. Let stand for 10 minutes. It is important to allow enough time for the bread to absorb the egg mixture or the bread crumbs will float to the top during baking, leaving a layer of custard on the bottom of the dish.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a greased baking dish. Bake until firm, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let it slightly cool in the dish.
Bourbon Sauce:
  1. Meanwhile, near the end of the baking time, make the sauce. With an electric mixer, beat egg yolks until thick and pale.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter and sugar. Pour the butter and sugar mixture over the egg yolks, beating constantly with the mixer, until well thickened.
  3. Stir in bourbon by hand. Serve the pudding warm with vanilla ice cream if desired. Pass the hot bourbon sauce separately.
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Beignets
Passive Time 48 Mins 4 Hours
Servings
Ingredients
Passive Time 48 Mins 4 Hours
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Make the yeast mixture: Combine yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tsp. granulated sugar in bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Add milk, eggs, salt, and remaining granulated sugar.
  2. Form a dough: Microwave remaining 1 cup water until hot (about 115°); stir in shortening until melted. Add to yeast mixture. Beat at low speed, gradually adding 4 cups flour, until smooth. Gradually add remaining 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour, beating until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl; turn to grease top. Cover and chill 4 to 24 hours.
  3. Roll and cut: Turn dough out onto a floured surface; roll to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 2 1/2-inch squares.
  4. Fry until golden: Pour oil to depth of 2 to 3 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 360°. Fry dough, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack. Dust immediately with powdered sugar.
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Dirty Rice
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion, celery, and poblano, and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add sausage; cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add rice, thyme, paprika, and cayenne; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in stock, collard greens, salt, and black pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until rice is tender, about 18 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork to serve
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Blackened Fish
Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 20 min
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 20 min
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over very high heat until it is beyond the smoking stage and you see white ash in the skillet bottom (the skillet cannot be too hot for this dish), at least 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, pour 2 tablespoons melted butter in each of 6 small ramekins; set aside and keep warm. Reserve* the remaining butter in its skillet. Heat the serving plates in a 250-degree oven.
  3. Thoroughly combine seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl, Dip each fillet in the reserved melted butter so that both sides are well coated; then sprinkle seasoning mix generously and evenly on both sides of the fillets, patting it in by hand. Place fish in the hot skillet and pour 1 teaspoon melted butter on top of each fillet (be careful, as the butter may flame up)
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