Barry Toups was looking for a new venture after retiring as maintenance manager from the Vermilion Parish school system, and what he found turned out to be something unique to Louisiana.

Toups opened Mrs. Rose’s/Crawfish Haven Bed and Breakfast outside of Kaplan, a country home-turned-hotel where guests can harvest crawfish in a nearby pond and boil them up for supper, and then tuck into bed for the night. Toups owns the crawfish fields next to the bed-and-breakfast and harvests them yearly for crawfish. For an extra fee, he will take guests in his boat and show them how crawfish are harvested.

“I actually pull the traps and put the crawfish in the boat, but you get to participate,” Toups explained.

The guests also may grab a net and fish the ponds for free.

After the boat ride, guests may then purchase the crawfish and bring the stash back to the accommodations to either boil the crustaceans themselves or have Toups do the honor. The back patio contains a crawfish boiler and tables set up for eating.

The idea of a bed-and-breakfast with crawfish experience came about after Toups retired, purchased 28 acres of crawfish ponds and set about making the fields profitable.

“I wanted a crawfish pond for myself and a place to bring my boys duck hunting,” he said.

The ponds faced the home of Rose Robicheaux, an elderly woman who had lived in the house almost her entire life, as did her parents. Seven members of Robicheaux’s family, including her parents, died in Hurricane Audrey in 1957, and Rose and her husband, Henry, a Vermilion Parish educator, moved to the property in 1958, said Robicheaux’s niece, Madeline Rose Besse.

She said Robicheaux worked her 3 acres of yard and flower beds and had a great attitude until her death in March 2013.

“Miss Rose, in the last years of her life, became a grandmother to me,” Toups said. “I loved crawfishing here and looking at the old house.”

Toups asked Robicheaux if she would consider selling the circa-1903 Acadian-style house to him. After her death at 92, the family did just that.

At first, Toups wasn’t sure what he would do with the quaint farmhouse. He considered using it as a camp and rented it out to duck hunters on occasion.

Visiting family members from Biloxi, Mississippi, suggested offering crawfish excursions as part of a package, and the idea stuck.

At the April 1 grand opening, Toups was ready to officially showcase the house as a bed-and-breakfast. There are two rooms that share a bath, one with three bunk beds and one with a queen-sized bed. The original master bedroom — with a king-sized bed — contains a private bath. The center of the house offers a seating area and expansive kitchen, all available for customers’ use. The house sleeps 13 and can be rented in its entirety.

“Each room has its own identity and a Louisiana theme,” Toups said. “I’m all about promoting Louisiana, especially Vermilion Parish.”

There’s also a wrap-around porch with seating for guests and views of crawfish ponds as far as the horizon.

Accommodations include breakfast, with Toups serving dishes such as crawfish omelets.

If the house is being used by hunters who will rise and leave before sunrise, he offers his own style of Continental breakfast.

“I put boudin in the ice box for them,” Toups said.

What guests will receive for their money is Cajun country living and working, Toups said. “You’re going to get a true Cajun experience over here.”

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