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Joseph Guidroz and Alvin Guidroz
Guidroz Food Center
In 1959, Joseph Guidroz opened Guidroz Food Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. His home was attached to the store where he and his wife worked, and the children literally grew up in the grocery business, playing among the aisles. Today Joseph Guidroz is 81 and retired, but on Tuesdays and Fridays he dons a work shirt and goes to the store to help make boudin. His son, Alvin, now runs the family business full time. His days start at 4 a.m. and end at 7 p.m., when things go according to plan. And though the hours are long, both men appreciate that they can work for themselves and their store can be a gathering place for the neighborhood.
And a popular gathering place it is; Guidroz Food Center is a neighborhood favorite, and walking inside is like stepping back in time. The butchers know their customers by name and cut meat to order. They make boudin using a family recipe and sell hundreds of pounds of it each week. If it’s ordered “cold-to-go,” a gentleman behind the counter will wrap a few links in butcher paper, seal the package with masking tape, and offer a reminder not to boil the boudin, or else it’ll bust in the hot water and make a gumbo. The preferred cooking method, he’ll tell you, is to bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat, and then drop the links into the pot for two minutes to warm.
Of course, customers who want to leave the cooking to the Food Center can do that, too. Of all the boudin sold each week, most of it goes to hungry customers who eat it right inside the store. The hot food counter is an attraction and a gathering place, and on the lunch hour it’s not uncommon to see a line of customers extending halfway down the store, all the way past the bread aisle. There’s a changing daily menu of house-cooked specialties, including local favorites. Guidroz serves red beans on Monday and cowboy stew on Thursdays and Saturdays. But don’t fear missing out: they have hot boudin links every day.