Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa proclaimed Sept. 19 as Lamendola’s Supermarket Day in Ascension Parish.
According to the proclamation, in 1873, Antonio Lamendola traveled from Alia, Sicily, to New Orleans, and then up to Helvetia Plantation, where he worked in the cane fields for 50 cents a day. An arranged marriage with his wife, Maria, produced five children. Antonio opened a barroom, and a fruit and lunch stand, across from where Lamendola’s Supermarket stands today.
Antonio’s son Angelo followed in his father’s footsteps by peddling bananas. He opened a bottling company, and later a bakery. Angelo drove a horse-drawn carriage through the parish selling bread for 10 cents a loaf. While selling bread he met his wife, Eva, and together they had four children: Ruby Ann, Nolan (Sonny), Glenn, and Anthony (Tony).
In 1936, Angelo opened Pleezing Food Superette where the fruit and lunch stand originally stood, connected to the family home. The store made and sold its own boiled ham, and had a ripening room where bananas sold by the pound. Angelo’s sons, Sonny and Glenn, began to work for their father learning the grocery business. They both worked as butchers in the morning before school, cutting all the meat by hand, and cleaned the milk bottles before pickup. In 1947, they expanded Pleezing Foods Superette, in the location where it would remain another 10 years.
Up to then, Angelo got his groceries by driving to Fourth Street in Baton Rouge and to the New Orleans French Quarter, but in 1957 he joined Associated Grocers, and in 1958 moved the store to its current location, renaming it Lamendola’s Supermarket. In 1960, Sonny bought out his brother and father. He became the youngest member of the Associated Grocers board of directors, and eventually served as both president and vice president of A.G. Sonny and his wife, Nona, had five children: Craig, Blair, Jill, Bill and Jan.
During the 1960s, because of the large demand, Lamendola’s opened a chandler business supplying groceries to oceangoing ships on the Mississippi River. At the time A.G. did not have a liquor or tobacco department, so Sonny also established Lamendola’s Bonded Store, which supplied tax-free tobacco, liquor and beer to the ships.
In 1974, Sonny’s son Blair began working in the store to learn the grocery business from his father. In 1980, Sonny expanded the store from 6,000 square feet to its current 20,000 square feet, and moved the entrance to face Burnside Avenue.
In 1989 and 1991, Blair won the title of Jambalaya Champion of the World, and in 2003 he won the Champion of Champions cooking contest. This put Lamendola’s Supermarket on the map as the best place around town for all jambalaya needs, drawing people from across the country for its large selection of cast iron pots and cooking accessories. In 1995, Sonny sold the store to Blair and his wife, Linda, who have two daughters, Eva and Daphne.
In 2013, Blair’s daughter Daphne bought the store, making her the fifth-generation merchant and fourth-generation owner of Lamendola’s Supermarket.