---- — Boudreaux 'N' Thibodeaux's
160 Main St., Oneonta
Owner: Bryan Trotti
Established: March 16, 2010
Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to owner of Oneonta Cajun restaurant Boudreaux 'N' Thibodeaux's, Bryan Trotti.
How long have you lived in the area?
I moved to Oneonta in 1989, so quite a while now. I'm originally from Louisiana.
Tell me about your business:
I'd always wanted to open a restaurant. I've always enjoyed cooking. ... Down in Louisiana, there are po' boy shops. Just recently jambalaya shops are springing up. I decided to open a combination jambalaya/po' boy shop. I started out doing po' boys, jambalaya, gumbo, things like that, and I figured out that not everybody up here knew what a po' boy was. Not everybody knew the difference between jambayala and gumbo, so I had to start adding things to the menu _ wings, burgers. It's a mix of things now. ... I don't mind giving out samples. Someone will ask what jambalaya is, and I'll say, "Here, taste it." If someone is leary about a wing sauce, I'll give them a taste. You've got to educate people of what you've got. I thought everybody knew the difference between jambalaya and gumbo and what a po' boy was, but they don't.
Describe a typical day in your business:
Get up in the morning, take my boys to school. Come in here, filter the oil, get ready for prepping. Just getting ready for the day. The morning is my quiet time here when I'm by myself. I read the paper, check my emails, listen to the radio a little bit. I open at 11 a.m. Sometimes I have door-busters, but for the most part we're busy from noon to 2:30-3 p.m., and then it will pick back up again at 4:30-5 p.m. I miss the students. It's slowed down considerably since they left. The town feels empty, calm. I used to like it, before I opened up the restaurant. But, now I depend on them. It's a big part of my business; probably 40 percent of my business is students. ... It should pick back up once the baseball camp people come in.
What's the most enjoyable part of what you do?
Meeting people. And hearing that my food is good. It gives me a lot of personal satisfaction to hear that. People will come in and eat and turn around and say "Great food," or give you a thumbs up. Without having to ask them, they'll say that the food's great.
Where do you see this business in five years?
Hopefully it will be a bit bigger than this. I'd like to be able to have a larger place and possibly have a beer license. Beer goes well with my food.
Describe a memorable moment in your workplace:
The seafood gumbo is the most popular menu item. Coming from Louisiana, gumbo's kind of a winter thing; like chili. You think of having chili in the colder weather. People up here don't think that way. Not too long after I first opened, gumbo was just a special. I'd have it one week and not have another. In the summer, it was in the 80s outside, a guy comes in and he asks for gumbo. I said, "I don't have any gumbo this week; it's usually my specialty." He said, "What kind of place is this that doesn't have gumbo?" And he turned around and walked out. I said, "OK." And I turned around and put gumbo on the menu again.
What are some advantages as well as drawbacks of doing business in this area?
Advantages, meeting people. I love meeting people, talking to people. It's amazing how many people I've met from Louisiana and the South since I opened this place up. I've met people who've lived in the same city I have. I've met people who were born in the same hospital. It's incredible how many people I've met. I guess the disadvantage is the long hours you put it. I'm in here at 7:30 (in the morning) and a lot of times I'm out of here at 9:30 (in the evening).
What advice would you give to someone trying to enter your field of work?
Be prepared to give up your regular life. Especially if you're doing it on your own. If you had a working partner, it wouldn't be as hard. But, on your own, you're putting in so many hours. You're the cook. You're the cleaner. You're the book keeper. You're the payroll. You do everything. It's not as physically hard, but it's mentally difficult.
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