The first grocery store is expected to open in downtown Lafayette this fall.

Handy Stop Market & Cafe, 444 Jefferson St., will be the first to open amid the 202 planned residential units for downtown and the 200 new jobs that Waitr will employ in the Lemoine Building. The 3,500-square-foot building will be housed in one of the old Heymann's Department Stores and will open in either October or November. 

"There's definitely a need in the community," said owner Bradley Cruice, founder of Healthy Acadiana and board member of the Acadiana Food Alliance. "I want to make sure I meet that need appropriately. I think now the time is ripe for us to open the market. 

"Opening a new business is always a gamble, but this is very much a calculated one for me." 

Residential construction has begun on two projects downtown — the 30-unit Buchanan Heights Townhomes at 305 W. Second St. and the 24-unit Vermilion Lofts at 436 E. Vermilion St. Another 68 are planned for the old federal courthouse on Jefferson Street, 70 are planned for a development on Monroe Street, and 10 are planned for 600 Johnston St.

Next year could bring 1,000 more people into the downtown district, Cruice said.  

“Amidst announcements of 200-plus residential units being developed in the Downtown District, conversations about a grocery store to service current and new residents, as well as the 6,000-plus employees who travel in and out of the district every day, have reached a new level of interest and importance,” said Anita Begnaud, Downtown Development Authority CEO.

“We are excited to welcome Handy Stop Market & Cafe to downtown Lafayette to provide fresh produce and items right here in the heart of our city.”

Handy Stop will offer produce, meats and dairy products along with general merchandise, prepared meals, a salad bar and flowers. It will also feature a drive-thru and on-site parking. 

The store will employ up to five people, said Cruice, whose father was in the grocery business. 

"The response has been overwhelming," he said. "We've gotten responses and messages from people who live near the (Evangeline) Thruway who are loving the fact that they can walk downtown and get groceries. Everything is looking positive." 

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