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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

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David Billeaud

David Billeaud grew up in his Cajun family’s grocery and butchery, started by his great-grandfather Marshall Billeaud, in Broussard, Louisiana. He started working with food at a young age; he remembers deboning and prepping pork chops and steaks to sale as soon as he was tall enough to “reach the meat block.” David opened up T-Coon’s in 1993, naming the restaurant after his father’s childhood nickname; he was “mischievous as a coon” (“T” is used as a diminutive in Cajun French). David serves what he’s deemed Zydeco cooking. For breakfast there’s brisket, pork roast, and crawfish omelets; all of the breads are homemade and freshly baked. The plate lunch special changes daily: smothered rabbit on Monday, short rib fricassee on Tuesday, Wednesday’s stuffed pork chops and smothered chicken and okra, Thursday’s smothered turkey wings, and catfish courtbouillon to end the work week. The catfish in the courtbouillon is, in season, hyper-local, caught daily on David’s bamboo lines in the surrounding Vermilion Bay. A virtuoso hunter and fisherman, David lines the walls of T-Coon’s with trophies and photographs (and a stuffed raccoon’s behind) from his and his customers’ adventures in the “Sportman’s Paradise” that is Louisiana.

Date of interview:

Rien T. Fertel

Denny Culbert

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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