Gone ... But Not Forgotten
Don't it always seem to go - That you don't know what you've got till it's gone? - They paved paradise - Put up a parking lot
(From Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi Lyrics)
Through the years, Opelousas has lost many of its historic treasures. Many of them are no long with us due to natural causes, But, many, much too many, were lost to the "wrecking ball." Many of these historic treasurers will be highlighted on this page from time to time.
Didee’s Restaurant opened in 1900 on Bellevue Street in downtown Opelousas and moved to the location on Market Street in 1924. It remained in that location until it closed in the late 1970s or early 1980s. The building that housed the restaurant (since 1924) was demolished in the 1990s to make room for a parking lot.
The Lastrapes family owned and ran Didee’s until May of 1970 when Anna Lastrapes died. Thomas and Tony Blouin and a woman named Edna worked for Anna Lastrapes in the restaurant. (In 1974, Edna, who was 83 years old, had been working in the restaurant for 49 years. Tony Blouin worked there for over 50 years.) When Anna died, the restaurant closed, and Thomas Blouin reopened it in four months and changed its name from Didee’s to DeeDee’s. Blouin said the name was changed “so people would know it was the same, but different.”
When the Blouin family took over the restaurant, they had the ducks they prepared shipped frozen from Long Island. But, they used local chickens. The recipes for the duck and the chicken were not original to the Blouin family, but were handed down from Anna Lastrapes. The "birds" were lightly seasoned, not too much so that the spices did not interupt the natural flavor. The ducks were slow roased for seven hours, the chickens for two. Also when the restaurant was reopened, roast pork and roast beef were added to the menu and in season, crawfish was prepared in all its exotic Louisiana forms. Other items on the menu included yams (mashed, sugared, buttered, nutmegged, vanilla’d, cinammoned, and then packed with thin slices of lemon for tartness.) There was also dirty rice and three kinds of gumbo. The meal was always topped off with homemade ice cream. And the cost of that fantastic meal? In 1974 two people could eat there for about $12.00!
People came to Opelousas from all parts just to eat at Didee’s (and DeeDee’s). From the early 1900s until it was closed, the restaurant fed all the governors of Louisiana and many other famous people as well. Amoung those were Lillian Hellman, who signed the guest book on May 10, 1970 and Marlon Brando, who visited the restaurant towards the end of 1973. He signed the guest book and added his testimonial as “GOOOOD.” Thomas Blouin also claimed that Elizabeth Taylor once stopped in (but that was before he was there). The family also fed others like Hubert Humphrey, Glen Campbell, Lee May (the ball player) and Ezzard Charles.
Theo Williams worked as the waiter at DeeDee in the 1970s and was taking care of the tables when freelance writer Jonathan Reynolds, who lived in New York,, visited the restaurant in 1974. He wrote of his visit in an article titles, “Where the Elite Meet To Eat in Opelousas, Louisiana,” published in the New York Times on Sunday, May 31, 1974.
The original building that housed Didee's when it opened in 1900 on Bellevue Street in downtown Opelousas. This later became the Elk Restaurant.
In 1924, Didee's moved to this building on Market Street. In 1970 the restaurant was sold and the new owner changed the name to DeeDee's.
Thomas Blouin cooking up some of his famous baked duck in the kitchen of DeeDee's in May of 1974.
DeeDee's Restaurant building shown here in 1990 not long before it was demolished to make room for a parking lot.