Music has always been a core component of alumnus Gerald Guilbeaux’s life.
Right at the corner of West Saint Mary Boulevard sits one of Lafayette's most iconic restaurants: Olde Tyme Grocery. The store, purchased by alumnus Glenn Murphree in 1982, has grown tremendously in its nearly 40 years in business. Originally from New Orleans, Glenn moved to Lafayette to attend school at the then-University of Southwestern Louisiana. After working a few other jobs, he decided to purchase a grocery store close to campus as his next business venture. From there, the store developed into what it is today, and it has served as a place for Ragin' Cajuns to gather for generations.
Glenn Murphree's son, Ross Murphree, currently serves as vice president for the company. Murphree attended UL Lafayette as well and graduated in 2010 with a degree in business administration. Growing up, Murphree saw first-hand just how popular Olde Tyme Grocery was within the community, especially their signature poor boys. "In the early days, we were making about 20 sandwiches a day. Now, we make around 700 a day," said Murphree. The restaurant has become known for its classic poor boy sandwiches. One of the secrets Murphree says is that they use fresh bread from Langlinais Bakery every day. Fresh ingredients mixed with a great atmosphere have garnered Olde Tyme Grocery not only local recognition but also national attention.
As Lafayette has become more of a travel destination, Olde Tyme Grocery's recognition has grown. "This has been a big help to our business," said Murphree. Over the years, the store has fed some big names that passed through town, such as Garth Brooks and Lil Wayne. However, Murphree is most proud of the store's connection to the University. As the University has expanded, more and more Ragin' Cajuns have made memories at the local poor boy shop right down the road from campus. "Now we're seeing third generation [Ragin' Cajuns] coming to the store," said Murphree. He also credits his father for instilling in him the importance of giving back to the community and UL Lafayette.
Like so many other businesses, Olde Tyme Grocery has had to adjust due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, with the help of their tremendous employees and the community's support, they've been able to sustain their business through these challenging times. "Our business has thankfully been strong," said Murphree. Recently, the store added a covered patio that increased its outside dining space. New additions like the patio have helped Olde Tyme Grocery adapt to the changing situations in the past year and allowed them to keep their doors open for the community.
As for the future of this Lafayette landmark, Murphree hopes to continue to expand. "My goal long term would be to open up multiple stores in different states," said Murphree. He also hopes that they'll continue adding new features to their original location, all while preserving the history and nostalgic feel of the store. Olde Tyme Grocery has built a brand that Ragin' Cajuns recognize across the country, and it will continue to serve as an integral part of the University's fabric for years to come.
Photo Caption: Olde Tyme Grocery located on Saint Mary Boulevard, just steps away from campus.