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Rouses Plans New 'Epicurean Market' in Louisiana

THIBODAUX, La. - Rouses Markets, Louisiana's largest independent grocer, has announced plans to build a second store in St. Tammany Parish. The 62,000-square-foot upscale store, a newer concept known as the "Epicurean Market," will feature a full-service butcher shop, seafood market, deli, cafe, floral shop, and one of the largest supermarket selections of wines in the state.

Donald Rouse, managing partner of Thibodaux, La.-based Rouses Markets, said the company acquired 18 acres in the New Orleans bedroom community of Mandeville, La. Construction is set to begin in January, and the store is slated to open by Thanksgiving 2005.

"We've been constructing the Epicurean Markets recently, and have been very successful with them," Rouse told Progressive Grocer. "They really set us apart from the competition."

The store will be Rouses' 16th, and its second location in St. Tammany. Rouses' other St. Tammany property, a 52,000-square-foot-store, is in Covington, a community about seven miles away from Mandeville. Both communities surround Lake Pontchartrain.

"Mandeville is an upscale market, and I think people there will respond very favorably to our unique Epicurean layout, offerings, and low prices," said Rouse, who noted that the area's population is "booming."

Along with traditional supermarket goods and services, Rouses' Epicurean Markets offer a larger selection of specialty foods and products. The new store's large produce department will feature more than 300 selections, including organic produce. A cut-fruit and gift basket station will be the centerpiece of the department.

The Mandeville Epicurean Market will also have a sausage kitchen featuring Rouses' own line of homemade Cajun Specialty Meats, which include sausage, boudin, head cheese, turduchen, and smoked and stuffed meats.

As they do at all of Rouses' stores, Rouses' Bayou Boys will also be boiling fresh Gulf seafood on site. "People drive from all over to get our boiled crawfish and shrimp," said Rouse, who credits the company's Louisiana roots for its success with seafood. "We grew up boiling on the bayou. The out-of-town chains don't even know how."

In 2005 Rouses also plans to renovate its 73,000-square-foot superstore in Houma, La.

Rouses is the largest independent grocer in Louisiana. Founded in 1960 by Anthony J. Rouse Sr. with four employees, the company now employs over 1,700 people.

-- Jenny McTaggart
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