It's been decades since the Trappey's processing plants in New Iberia and Lafayette closed their doors, but the family that once rivaled Tabasco and the McIlhenny family have returned to the food business in Acadiana.
Trapp's Broussard, 209 N. Morgan Ave., opened Oct. 28 in the 4,500-square-foot building that previously housed Hook & Boil and offers Cajun and Creole dishes including their smothered catfish, crawfish étouffée and red beans and rice that use Trappey's red kidney beans. Table are adorned with the usual condiments such as ketchup and salt and pepper along with a bottle of Trappey's Louisiana Original Recipe Hot Sauce.
"I'm fourth generation out from the founder," co-owner Joey Trappey said. "I have a lot of family members here that have the same ties. I don't remember that much about the company, but it's something we're very proud of and I'm going to try to embrace the history as much as I can and kind of relive that whole story."
Trappey's Hot Sauce had a heated rivalry for almost a century. It was started in 1898 in New Iberia by Trappey's great-grandfather, former McIlhenny blacksmith Bernard F. Trappey Sr., who took some Tabasco peppers from Avery Island when he left and started manufacturing his own Tabasco hot sauce. It led McIlhenny to copyright the name of the pepper in 1906, according to published reports.
Trappey's set itself apart from Tabasco with a stronger vinegar taste and not as much spice. The company had sauces using different peppers or flavors, a practice the McIlhenny Company would eschew for over 125 years of its business life. It was also known for its canning of local items like red kidney beans and yams.
The two companies would have their scrapes in the Scoville scale stadium for 84 years before the brand was sold in 1982 to Perry and Wiltz Segura. It would then change hands a few more times before the McIlhenny Company acquired it in 1991 and then sold the brand to its current owner, B&G Foods of Morgan City, in 1997.
Born and raised in New Iberia, Trappey went to Catholic High of New Iberia with his lifelong best friend and future Trapp's co-owner Barrett Boutte. He eventually moved to north Louisiana in 2001 to play football and basketball at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and started his first restaurant, Fieldhouse Bar & Grill, in Monroe in 2009.
He then opened the original Trapp's in West Monroe in 2015 and bought Crawfish City in 2015 and Portico in 2018. However, he said he always wanted to return to his roots in Acadiana and has been looking for the right location to bring the Trappey name back to south Louisiana.
"We've been throwing this idea around for four or five years, but we just couldn't find the perfect location," said Boutte, a registered nurse before quitting to go into business with Trappey. "Then the Hook & Boil became available, and we just wanted to give back to our community and give Broussard a great place they can enjoy with good food and great atmosphere. It seems people really like it. We're already getting repeat customers."
One of those repeat customer is Greg Bonin, a Broussard native and retired Major League Baseball umpire. He's visited Trapp's three times in one week and said he loves the catfish and the red beans and rice.
"They're doing everything they can to make everything better (than Hook & Boil)," Bonin said. "The food is 10 times better than before. I went to school with a couple Trappey girl when I was at USL. It's really neat to have (the restaurant) back here in Broussard."
The restaurant employs 40 people and also has an outdoor patio with a custom cypress bar that will soon feature live music on Thursday and Saturday nights.
Trappey said the restaurant's return to Acadiana allowed him to reconnect with his family heritage and with people connected to the family's legacy. He's heard from people about how their parents and grandparents worked for his family.
"It's fun to relive those stories and for me to learn more about the company," he said. "There's still a lot that I don't know about — from how things were done to how we helped the troops in World War II to canning the first yam to rivaling Tabasco with the varying sauces we had. They just did it differently back then, and it's cool to hear those stories."
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