Rouses Markets today signed a lease on the former 48,000-square-foot Graham Central Station site at 601 Bertrand Drive, located at the corner of Congress and Bertrand in the Westwood Village shopping center.

Donny Rouse, a third generation family member who handles real estate for the Louisiana-based company and is also involved in operations, tells The INDsider the store should open in January, offering all of the “bells and whistles” of Rouses in Youngsville but featuring the very latest in supermarket design and merchandising available in the marketplace.

The 60,000-square-foot Youngsville store on East Milton Avenue opened in early 2009 to rave reviews from shoppers — it was the biggest grand opening event in the company’s history — and has either met or exceeded the company’s expectations for sales, Rouse says. The company prides itself on offering the freshest Louisiana seafood and produce, as well as Louisiana-made products.

Rouses’ history dates as far back as 1923 when J.P. Rouse founded the City Produce Company in Thibodaux. At that time, people who were used to going to the corner store for groceries were just starting to shop at supermarkets. City Produce Company began buying locally grown fruits and vegetables from farmers in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, and at the French Market in New Orleans. The company would sort, pack and ship the fresh produce all over the country for sale in supermarkets as far away as Alaska.

In 1960, J.P.’s son Anthony and his cousin, Ciro DiMarco, opened their first grocery store with four employees. Along with the fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables that City Produce Company supplied, the 7,000-square-foot Houma store stocked Louisiana seafood, dry goods, and fresh meat. The supermarket business continued to expand; in 2007, two years after hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the New Orleans area, Rouses acquired A&P’s Southern Division of 17 Sav-A-Center stores — effectively doubling the company’s size and giving it its first stores in the city of New Orleans and in Mississippi. In 2008, Rouses acquired two additional stores in Mississippi.

The Youngsville location, which marked the company’s expansion into Acadiana, was the first time in three years that Rouses constructed a new store. Now 35 stores strong, Rouses’ next expansion will be east of New Orleans in St. Bernard Parish, with another Lafayette store a very real possibility, Rouse says.

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