Downtown Lafayette's spot for prairie-style boudin, homestyle lunches and smoked meats will get a face-lift as the owners of Johnson's Boucanière, 1111 St. John St., will soon renovate the building.
Owners Greg and Lori Johnson Walls will enclose the 500-square-foot porch on the building's north side and do other improvements, including a new paint job and replacing any rotted boards. The restaurant, which first opened at that location over a decade ago, will remain open.
"We've been at this location for over 11 years, and restaurants are tough on buildings," Greg Walls said.
The porch will be climate-controlled, he said. Work should begin in two to four weeks and take about a month.
"I’m so proud of the business Johnson's Boucanière has built over the years," Downtown Development Authority CEO Anita Begnaud wrote in a Facebook post. "Their investment in Downtown Lafayette has created an important attraction to our city center that is beloved by people all over the world."
The restaurant's history dates back to Johnson's Grocery in Eunice, which was opened in 1937 by Arneastor Johnson. His children Wallace, Marie, Harrison, Joe, Stephen and Matthew Johnson all had a hand in running the store until it closed in 2005.
Lori Johnson Walls, Wallace's daughter, decided to develop the property in 2008 and "bring back" the prairie-style smoking to the restaurant in Lafayette. At 91, Wallace Johnson is still active at the restaurant and can usually be found there from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. joking about how he makes 45 cents per hour.
"Johnson's Grocery sold basic grocery items and dry goods, but it was also one of the first to commercially sell boudin," Greg said. "When we opened downtown and wanted to continue its legacy, we realized downtown wasn't ready for a dry goods store but was ready for a restaurant. So we tweaked the concept, and I think it's worked well."
Johnson's Boucanière has been featured on the Travel Channel and other television programs, the culinary culture podcast "The Splendid Table" and in several national publications.
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