The History of Des Amis
Café Des Amis has a rich history starting with the construction of the building it calls home, circa 1890. Originally, it was a one story structure that served as a general merchandise store. Four years later, a fire broke out causing the need for reconstruction and the second story was added at that time. Caskets were manufacutured in the upstairs space, and they were moved from floor to floor by a hand operated Otis elevator which remained operable until a second fire broke out early in the summer of 2001. It was the first elevator in Breaux Bridge, and one of the only in a rural area. The fire damaged the large elevator shaft and the rest of the downstairs kitchen, so the structure had to be rebuilt once again. The hand crank mechanism which resides at the front of the restaurant was styled into a unique hostess stand by Toby Rodriguez, a local artist and craftsman. You can still find the original model and serial numbers on the gears. The downstairs continued as a general merchandise store until local historical figure, Ms Zeen, transformed it into a women's apparel shop. She was known throughout the area as the 'Lagniappe Lady' to those who bought material from her and often went home with a roll or two of thread for free.
When Dickie Breaux originally purchased the building, the downstairs was used as an art studio and the upstairs became a living area. As time passed, the decision was made to include a coffee shop along with the studio, and Café Des Amis was born in 1992. Before long, food was served too, depending on how much catfish they could buy for $200 that week. As demand from customers grew, so did the menu and the Café Des Amis family. The beautiful black walnut and marble 1920's style stand-up bar came from the Evangeline Hotel in Lafayette. It was given to Mr. Breaux and had to be moved from a barn and heavily restored, before it could be used in the restaurant. Mr. Breaux served Louisiana in the state legislature, and has lived in Cajun bayou country his entire life. He played a major role in the preservation of historical buildings in downtown Breaux Bridge, and is a member of the Historical Preservation Society. These efforts have been written about in numerous national and international food and travel publications, and his advice is sought after by other communities wishing to preserve their own towns.