Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Written by Lisa Hanchey
The old Domingue Motors in downtown Breaux Bridge undergoes a dramatic transformation.
For 30 years, the former Domingue Motors auto dealership building was referred to as the “biggest eyesore” in downtown Breaux Bridge. Now, the 17,000-square-foot abandoned space has been transformed into a thriving market filled with antiques, collectibles and art, a unique auto-themed restaurant and a versatile event space.
|Jennifer Casanova, general manager of Lagniappe Antiques
Owners David Buck and his daughter, Heather Indest, envisioned an antique mall when they purchased the building a year and a half ago. For the transformation, they enlisted Jennifer Casanova, former owner of Casanova Antiques and Interiors in her native Crowley, who was decorating restaurants in Destin, Fla., at the time. Under Casanova’s guidance, the vacant space was partitioned and converted into booths for antique dealers. Interspersed with the cubbies are end caps for artists to display their wares. Casanova convinced the owners to keep the painted brick walls and concrete floors to maintain the integrity of the building.
Lagniappe Antiques opened in October 2009. The business boasts 60-plus dealers from all areas of Louisiana, carrying the full gamut of antiques, including European and Louisiana furniture, primitive pieces, garden items, slot machines, jukeboxes, victrolas, vintage clothing, furs and jewelry, and china and crystal. Among the more unique pieces are a country store sliding ladder, a set of massive doors and windows from the Latin Quarter in Egypt and a large wooden legal file cabinet from Todd Fusilier of Blue Blood Antiques in Bunkie. Some merchants from the former Jefferson Street Market have relocated to Lagniappe, including Flip Flop, Vieux Carré and Brian Miller Photography of New Orleans. Artwise, the gallery showcases works from members of the Louisiana Crafts Guild, and paintings and giclées from other artists. Casanova encourages merchants to “stir the pot” so that customers can see something new on every visit.
Store mascot Sophie, an adorable Shitzu/poodle mix, greets customers inside. Funky music plays in the background, creating a relaxing atmosphere for treasure hunters. Across from the main entrance is a bar with complimentary coffee and fresh lemonade. In the middle of the floor is a grand piano, where customers can gather around musicians for sing-alongs.
In the former showroom space, Lagniappe holds classes in art, including stained glass, mosaics and pottery, as well as dance lessons in Cajun, Zydeco and Zumba. This room is also available for private parties, receptions and performances.
Brand new to the building is a bar and restaurant, Buck & Johnny’s Pizzeria, named after the owners, David Buck and Johnny Raymond. The eatery seats 140 diners. Using her restaurant décor know-how, Casanova maintained the car theme by incorporating diamond plate stainless steel at the front counter, bar and booth inserts. Vintage signs from Sinclair, Texaco-Gulf and Marathon Oil deck the walls. Old buckets and oil cans were recycled as accessories and plant holders. Upstairs is a balconied dining space, which can be reserved for private events. An outdoor courtyard is also available for al fresco dining.
Morgan Angelle, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of New Orleans, serves as executive chef. She created an Italian menu with “a little bit of Cajun influence” featuring unique appetizers, including garlic knots and marinara, roasted steak fries with bacon blue cheese and crawfish baked crustini with pink remoulade. Buck & Johnny’s offers a sandwich special during lunch and a pasta or pizza special in the evenings. Partner Patrick Poupart provides the bread, desserts and pizza dough from Poupart Bakery in Lafayette, and Poche’s Market in Breaux Bridge supplies the meats. From the bar, customers can order specialty draft beers including LA-31 Bière Pâle, bottled beer and imports, or wines by the bottle or glass from an impressive list compiled by General Manager Ryan Hebert. In the future, the restaurant plans to offer catering, wine dinners and drink specials. “Ryan and I are really excited to be here in Breaux Bridge,” Angelle says. “We have a whole plan with the food and events.”Lagniappe Antiques and Buck & Johnny’s are open every day but Monday. Buck & Johnny’s serves lunch from 11 a.m. -2 p.m., and dinner on Tuesday and Thursday from 5-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5-11 and Sunday from 5-9.