Friday, March 1, 2013
|Kevin Robin, left, and Sanjay Maharaj|
When Interstate 49 was being constructed in the 1980s, the fact that the federal highway bypassed Arnaudville could have been considered a negative toward the area’s economic development. Yet, as native Kevin Robin puts it, getting cut out of the federal roadway’s path was actually a positive, allowing the predominately French-speaking community of about 1,500 a chance to maintain what he calls its “naïveté.”
Robin is the owner of a new restaurant in Arnaudville called The Little Big Cup, which opened just over a year ago. Robin and his business partner, Sanjay Maharaj, a Trinidad native, are representative of what some residents are calling Arnaudville’s renaissance, marked in part by a number of new ventures, including the Bayou Teche Brewery on LA 31, Tom’s Fiddle & Bow Shop, the new NuNu’s art studio and, possibly in the near future, a French immersion program in the old St. Luke’s Hospital.
Robin is like many of the town’s native sons and daughters who left their hometown after high school only to return in recent years.
“I lived in New York for about 20 years, but started getting the ahnvie to move back again about two years ago,” he tells IND Monthly during a recent visit to his restaurant, which overlooks Bayou Fusilier.
Robin is no newcomer to Arnaudville’s business community; he represents the fifth-generation to own Russell’s Food Center, located directly across the street from The Little Big Cup.
Recalling the return to his hometown, Robin says the idea to open a restaurant came when his partner, Maharaj, asked the simple question: Where does one go for a good cup of coffee in Arnaudville?
“There wasn’t a place,” says Robin. “So we originally opened Little Big Cup as a little coffee shop. And it has just mushroomed from there.”
That little coffee shop has since become a restaurant, specializing in what Robin describes as “the classic Louisiana plate lunch.”
“The idea was to offer something for people like my sister with kids, people with hectic lives, to be able to still get a nutritious, affordable meal,” he says.
Now Robin is gearing up for the next expansion of the business. That development, for which construction is already under way, includes the erection of a massive wooden deck on the backside of the restaurant. Once finished, it will not only allow for al fresco, on-the-bayou dining, but will also be a place for entertainment, with open mic nights, an outdoor kitchen for cooking demos and a place for zydeco/Cajun dancing.
Like the town’s other business owners, Maharaj and Robin welcome the idea of using the vacant St. Luke’s Hospital building as headquarters for a French immersion program.
“This project would only be a positive for Arnaudville’s economic development and its business community,” says Maharaj, noting, however, that the French immersion program is meeting some resistance from town folks (see this month's cover story, "Parlez Vous?").
Robin, however, believes they will come around. Oftentimes, those against the unknown (and fearful of change) have more in common than they suspect, he says.
“I always joke that Sanjay, even though he’s from another country, is more Cajun than I am,” Robin says of his partner in business and life. “He’s so devoted to family, food, music, and that love of family and culture, to me, is what being Cajun is all about.”
Newsy tidbits for the fam
Irish style is smiling
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, March 12, 2014:
Abshire has rejoined the Lafayette Bar Association, where she previously served as marketing coordinator under longtime Executive Director Susan Holliday
Home-grown Baton Rouge market/deli heads to Lafayette.
Deadline for submitting noms for annual competition is March 15
Whitney Bank officials have confirmed that the downtown branch will cease to exist when it relocates its regional headquarters to River Ranch at the end of May.
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Downtown Lafayette restaurant launches new concept near Le Triomphe
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Yeah, it's smoked venison sausage stuffed in a suckling pig stuffed in a lamb and roasted over an open fire.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Reamco founders Brent Milam and Ashley Lane now shareholders in acquiring company and part of its management team.
Low heels, high style
The board hopes to recover all fees paid, plus one-half, along with what could amount to hundreds of thousands in additional penalties.
Oh, the irony... or something like that.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
St. Patty's Day crafts
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern