Denny and Billy Guilbeaux, who were born 28 minutes apart, opened Twins Burgers and Sweets in June following a notorious dispute with their father. They have since created the business they’ve always wanted.
“We really like making people happy and products that make people happy,” says Denny, who alternates between cutting cakes and swinging his golf club in the kitchen. “We know that if something bad happens in the business, it’s because of us and if something good happens, it’s because of us.”
Denny and Billy liken their business roles to their unique bond and DNA — they’re mirror twins, which means one twin’s strengths are another’s weakness. If one’s right eye is dominant, the other’s left eye is dominant. Denny views himself as the creative mind and is the head of the bakery and kitchen; Billy is the office mind who claims he is better at solving problems.
The two grew up in the original Southside Bakery and What Time is It Bakery in Carencro, and discovered when they were young that they could sell roll-up sandwiches and Christmas cookies at school and turn a hefty profit.
“We sold them for 50 cents each,” says Billy, “and we made $80 each every day.” In middle school, they picked pecans to sell to grocery stores, and figs to make individual pies that they sold out of bus tubs with bottles of milk. “We’ve always worked. We were brought up to work and make a living by using common sense and our work ethic. This is what we’ve done our whole lives: sell cookies and food to people.”
The cookies are out every day in the showcases at their 2801 Johnston St. location, along with the standard petit fours in white, red velvet, strawberry, lemon and doberge. There are also 8-inch cakes in doberge, red velvet and Italian cream. The menu features a new “twin” burger with two house-made freshly ground meat patties seasoned with a little spice sandwiched in a slightly sweet bun. The burger is exactly what it should be — juicy with a hint of seasoning.
“If we can make it ourselves, we will,” says Denny, who has a talent for flipping pieces of cake from his spatula into his mouth. “That way we can control the consistency.”
The taste is familiar and comforting, but still unlike any burger in Lafayette. They also offer turkey burgers, crab burgers and crawfish burgers, and all hold the ability to become cheeseburgers with swiss or pepper jack. Junior burgers are available for those who want a little less than the twins. Denny estimates they sell 400 burgers a day, and says he can’t even begin to count how many sweets he bakes in a week.
“We’re happy to see the same customers we’ve served [at Southside],” says Billy. “They keep coming back, and we see the same faces on a daily basis.”
After Southside closed, the twins’ father filed a lawsuit against the two, but the parties have since settled. The twins agree that the split from their father was not about compensation or money — “it was about what’s right and wrong,” says Denny.
“We learned a lot through it,” says Billy. “The moral is that you can do it, you just have to be persistent with the right intentions. We never felt sorry for ourselves — it was always ‘what can we do tomorrow to open the business?’ We just kept moving forward.”
And with that attitude, they rebuilt the restaurant almost entirely themselves, save for electrical and plumbing work. The first week, their loan fell through and they were forced to pay for equipment and construction supplies on a credit card and the “hope and faith that everything was going to work out. We didn’t have enough money to eat lunch some days,” says Billy. They tore down and built walls to make the kitchen bigger and create a prep area; they retiled the floors, built new countertops and regrid the ceiling. After moving into the space on March 1, they received a loan from American Bank a week later and opened June 11.
Now the twins say they don’t want the business to be about them and instead want the food to speak for itself. “It’s about giving people good food that’s well made,” says Billy.
Visit Twins Monday through Saturday between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. — Elizabeth Rose
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
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Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
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Acadiana's nightlife guide.
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We welcome nominations from readers and leaders throughout the business community in Lafayette and the five surrounding parishes.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
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