MARCH | APRIL 2020
family owned since 1960
60 FOODS WE LOVE TO EAT 60THINGS WE LOVE TOMAKE
60 INGREDIENTS THAT MAKE US LOCAL
WE GREWUP BOILING ONTHE BAYOU
Our Rouses recipe has been perfected over three generations, so our seafood always comes out seasoned to perfection .
Get it hot from the pot in our seafood department.
Family Owned Since 1960
EVERYDAY LOW PRICE YOUDON’THAVETOWAITFORASALE
Best Quality & Best Price Since 1960 by Donny Rouse, CEO, 3rd Generation
Give the customer two things: the best quality at the best price. I learned that from my father, who learned it from his. It’s been our motto since we opened our very first store in 1960.
We’re celebrating our 60th anniversary, which has all of us thinking, not just about our history, which you will read about in this issue, but also our future. We’ve built close relationships with our vendor partners over the past 60 years, some who are featured in this issue. It has always been our policy that when these vendors get us special deals, we pass these deals along to you. Those are the extra savings you see in our weekly ads that we put in newspapers or deliver to you in special mailings. But the way you get your news, and your ads, is changing every day. That got us thinking: What if you don’t read the newspaper? What if you’re out of town and miss one of our ads? Say you don’t need the items we’re advertising that week…but you might need the ones next week. For the past few months, we’ve been working with those vendor partners, as well as our national vendors, to get us even lower everyday costs instead of deep discounts every once in a while, so we can keep our everyday low prices steady. By taking our already low everyday prices even lower, and then locking them in, we guarantee you get the best value every time you shop.
Together, we’ve been able to reduce prices on nearly 1,000 grocery items, including bread, dairy, household items, meat, seafood, produce and frozen foods. Every item will be priced consistently low for at least 60 days. And we’re investing in lowering everyday prices on new products throughout the year. Of course, we’re always looking to save you even more money, while still bringing you the quality you trust. We’re continuing to expand our list of private brand products, including organics and unique products developed in partnership with local producers. These are always our best value. And when those same vendor partners, and new vendor partners, bring us hot buys — additional quality options at even further discounts — we will pass those savings along to you as special sale items, for a day, a week, sometimes even for a month. Look for them in our ads, in-store flyers and exclusive emails. Or the coupons we have in this issue, which start on page 71. Because, while plenty has changed over the 60 years that we’ve been in business, our commitment to the best quality at the best price never will.
Chicken Salad Our chicken salad is one of our most
requested recipes, but it’s one of a handful we don’t give out. It’s a family recipe, created by my grandfather, made with fresh ingredients and seasoned with our special blend of herbs and seasonings. But here is a similar version I know you will love. Makes 4 servings WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 4 cups poached white and dark meat chicken, finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped celery ½ cup finely chopped onion 1 cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon lemon juice ½ tablespoon dill relish ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
HOW TO PREP: Put the chicken into a mixing bowl or large work bowl of a food processor. Add the celery and onion. Blend together the mayonnaise, lemon juice and dill relish, and add to the chicken mixture. Add salt and pepper and stir or pulse to blend.
Table of Contents COVER PHOTO BY ROMNEY CARUSO
IN EVERY ISSUE
A FEW OF OUR LOCAL PARTNERS
60 63 71 83
Letter from Donny Rouse
Essential Gulf Coast Ingredients
Community Coffee by Sarah Baird
Iconic Dishes of the Gulf Coast
Letter from the Editor
Blue Plate Mayonnaise
Family First, Then Business
Things That Make Us Famous
Camellia Beans by David W. Brown
In Our Stores
Guidry’s Fresh Cuts by Ken Wells
Chisesi’s Pride by Justin Nystrom
Mr. Anthony by David W. Brown
23 29 40
Pimento Cheese Dip
Jack Miller’s BBQ by Michael Tisserand
Remembering Mr. Anthony by Sarah Baird
Red Beans & Rice
Ham & Cheese Po-Boy
OUR PAST & PRESENT
Mickey Brown’s by Michael Tisserand
Root Beer Glazed Ham
by David W. Brown
26 32 38 42 48 69
Alabama Banana Pudding
Abita Beer by Robert Simonson
WowWee Sauce by Sarah Baird
Browned-Butter Pecan Pie
We Dat’s by Sarah Baird
Red Gravy & Spaghetti
Cotton Blues by Liz Thorpe
My great-grandfather, grandfather and father all supported their families by hunting and fishing along the fertile coast of Terrebonne Parish. In 2003, we were having a difficult time due to the flood of imports crashing our dockside prices. Rouses stepped up and offered local shrimpers a spot to sell shrimp in front of their stores; I sold my shrimp in front of their store in Covington. Then they asked if I was interested in selling shrimp directly to their stores. That day changed the course of my business. Rouses helped my business grow beyond my expectations. I’m forever grateful to them for giving me that chance. — Lance Nacio, Owner and Captain, Anna Marie Seafood
Join us Saturday, March 14 th at 11am for a free piece of cake at any
Throughout 2020, we’re celebrating our 60 th anniversary with a series of gifts to you, our customers. Stay tuned to our advertising, website and social media for more to come.
• T H E O F F I C I A L S E A L O F A P P R O V A L • F A R M - T O - T A B L E • C A J U N • C R E O L E • C R A F T B E V E R A G E
The Certified Louisiana
logos guarantee authentic
across parish lines and
share our heart and soul
with the world. Buy Certified Louisiana products today!
LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE & FORESTRY MIKE STRAIN DVM, COMMISSIONER
DigiCode™ Data File ACCOUNT : 88823 COMMU ORDERED BY : CHRISTIAN CA P.O. NUMBER : 560078 INVOICE NO. : 1603315 ( EPS via EMAIL ) NOTICE: This DigiCode™ file is c by the purchaser. Use of this file c or distortion is prohibited. See ba MANUFACTURER’SCOUPON LIMITONECOUPONPERITEMPURCHASED OFF R EXPIRES 5/15/2020 SAVE $ 1 .00 on Any ONE (1) Bag or Single-Serve Box
From one family-owned company to another, congratulations on your 60 th anniversary! CHEERS to ROUSES 60th ANNIVERSARY!
• • • •
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Customer: Thiscoupon isgood for$1.00offanyONE (1)Community®coffeebagorsingle-servebox. Notvalidwithanyothercouponoroffer.LIMITONECOUPONPERITEMPURCHASED.Couponwillbevoid if altered, transferred,exchanged, sold,purchasedor copied.Anyotheruse constitutes fraud.You are responsible foranysales tax.Thiscoupon isvalidonly in theU.S.A. Retailer: Wewill reimburseyou the facevalueof this couponplus8 centshandlingprovided it is redeemedbya consumerat the timeof purchaseon thebrandspecified.Couponsnotproperly redeemedwillbevoidandheld.Reproduction of this coupon isexpresslyprohibited.Anyotheruse constitutes fraud.MAILTO:COMMUNITYCOFFEE COMPANY LLC1587,NCHMARKETING SERVICES,P.O.BOX880001,ELPASO, TX88588-0001.Cash Value is$.001.Voidwheretaxedorrestricted.©2020COMMUNITYCOFFEECOMPANY
© 2020 Community Coffee Company
Flavor Matters. Traditions start when one generation passes down a recipe for a favorite meal. A recipe so good that it deserves an audience. A meal that gets shared in the company of friends and family. Laughter must be had, stories should be told. This meal should start new traditions and create memories. It should be made with love, and it should start with Cajun Country Rice. Find us at a Rouses Market near you.
New orleans kettle style Cajun crunch that packs all the flavor of Louisiana!
on their 60th Anniversary!
Sarah Baird Sarah Baird is the author of multiple books including New Orleans Cocktails and Flask , which was released this summer. A 2019 Knight Visiting Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, her work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Saveur, Eater, Food & Wine and The Guardian , among others. Previously, she served as restaurant critic for the New Orleans alt-weekly, Gambit Weekly , where she won Critic of the Year in 2015 for her dining reviews. David W. Brown Times , Writer’s Digest and Foreign Policy magazine. He is a regular commentator for television and radio. Romney Caruso Romney is a Mandeville resident and has been a professional photographer for over 25 years. He has styled and photographed food for hundreds of local and national publications, and for several cookbooks. His portrait series of chefs and bartenders, titled “Shakers, Knives & Irons,” was displayed in New Orleans and Los Angeles. BEGGARS Distinguished Professor of History at Loyola University New Orleans where he teaches American History, Foodways, and Oral History. He is the author of the James Beard nominated Creole Italian: Sicilian Immigrants and the Shaping of New Orleans Food Culture and New Orleans after the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom. Robert Simonson Robert writes about cocktails, spirits, bars, and bartenders for The New York Times . He is also a contributing editor and columnist at PUNCH . His books include The Old-Fashioned (2014), A Proper Drink (2016) and David is a regular contributor to The Atlantic , The Week and Mental Floss . His work also appears in Vox , The New York Justin A. Nystrom Justin is the Peter J. Cangelosi/
Marketing & Advertising Director Tim Acosta
3-Ingredient Cocktails (2017), which was nominated for a 2018 James Beard Award. He was also a primary contributor to The Essential New York Times Book of Cocktails (2015). Robert won the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation’s 2019 Spirited Award for Best Cocktail and Spirits Writer, and his work, which has also appeared in Saveur, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, New York magazine, and Lucky Peach , has been nominated for a total of 11 Spirited Awards and two IACP Awards. A native of Wisconsin, he lives in Brooklyn. Liz Thorpe Liz Thorpe is a world-class cheese expert. A Yale graduate, she left a “normal” job in 2002 to work the counter at New York’s famed Murray’s Cheese. She is the founder of The People ’ s Cheese , and author of The Book of Cheese: The Essential Guide to Discovering Cheeses You ’ ll Love and The Cheese Chronicles . Michael Tisserand Michael is a New Orleans-based author whose books include The Kingdom of Zydeco ; Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White ; and a post-Katrina memoir, Sugarcane Academy , about Tisserand and other parents persuading one of his children’s teachers, Paul Reynaud, to start a school among the sugarcane fields of New Iberia. Tisserand is a founding member of the Laissez Boys Social Aide and Leisure Club, a Mardi Gras parading organization. Ken Wells Ken grew up on the banks of Bayou Black deep in South Louisiana’s Cajun belt. He got his first newspaper job as a 19-year-old college dropout, covering car wrecks and gator sightings for The Courier , a Houma, Louisiana weekly, while still helping out in his family’s snake-collecting business. Wells journalism career includes positions as senior writer and features editor for The Wall Street Journal ’s Page One. His latest book, Gumbo Life: Tales from the Roux Bayou , is in stores now.
Creative Director & Editor Marcy Nathan
Art Director, Layout & Design Eliza Schulze
Illustrator Kacie Galtier
Production Manager McNally Sislo
Corporate Chef Marc Ardoin
Photo Director Romney Caruso
Copy Editor Patti Stallard
Advertising Amanda Kennedy Harley Breaux Marketing Stephanie Hopkins Robert Barilleaux
Nancy Besson Taryn Clement
Royale Cookies People ask me all of the time if my job is as fun as it looks. I love my job. I really do. If you are one of those people who can’t stand your job, stop here. Don’t even bother reading this be- cause you will be jealous. One of the rules of working on this magazine — really, for working at Rouses — is that you have to be a food fan (don’t be envious that I get to eat the food leftover from the photo shoots; someone’s got to do it). One day we started arguing, I mean talking, about what separates us from the competition, and that’s how the 60 Things That Make Us Rouses came about. We all have our own favorites. There’s one Rouses item that tops my personal list that didn’t make the cut — our Royale Cookies. They are one of a small handful of recipes we don’t share, but our Bakery Director, Michelle, gave me one that comes close. ½ cup sugar 2 large eggs 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1 cup shredded coconut ¾ cup chopped macadamia nuts 1 12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips HOW TO PREP: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in each egg one at a time. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients from the first bowl and beat on low speed until just combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl if needed. Stir in the coconut and macadamia nuts. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop out 1½-inch sized balls of dough and place them on the parchment paper about 2 inches apart. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until the cookies are just golden on the edges. Remove from oven and let the cookies cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack. They should be chewy with crispy edges. Makes 18-24 cookies WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1½ cups brown sugar 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
Letter from the Editor by Marcy Nathan, Creative Director
How did a small, family-run grocery store in the town of Houma, Louisiana, grow to 64 stores throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama? That’s the story my team and I set out to tell in this issue.
On the following pages we’ll show you how our brand was born and bred on the bayou, and how we reached our 60-year milestone with the help of some famous friends like Community Coffee, Camellia Brand beans and Abita Beer. And how we are heading into tomorrow with new offerings from upstarts like We Dat’s and Cotton Blues (which makes the best cheese- cake I’ve ever eaten). Grocery stores don't just shape the way we eat; they shape the way we live. Matt Saurage, fourth-generation owner of Community Coffee, told us his first job was in a grocery store, the summer he was 13. I wonder how many of you had your first real job at a Rouses Market? How many of you followed in your parent’s footsteps and found jobs here? How many have been with our company since our first few stores opened decades ago? Every member of the Rouses family and most of the people in our store support offices started their working life at Rouses, some as teenagers stocking shelves, pushing carts or running a cash register. My first job was restacking books and refilling disks at Tulane Law Library. My dad taught
at the Tulane School of Law, which is how I got the job. I’m afraid I spent most of my time there flirting with another law professor’s son. There are students still looking for the books we restacked… good luck . I spent most of my career on the advertising agency side helping a variety of local brands before I crossed over to Rouses full-time. I knew I wanted to work here long before I did, maybe from the first time I drove down the bayou. Back then, the Rouses corporate office was in the old “Rouse house,” where Mr. Anthony and Miss Joyce raised their kids. People worked in the kitchen and former bedrooms, and the family’s rumpus room became the conference room. We’ve come pretty far since then — we’re now 7,000 employees strong — but the same tenets that guided Mr. Anthony at our start in 1960, and drew me to join the company decades later, still guide us today: our continuing commitment to providing the best product at the best price, and our unwavering dedication to every hometown we serve.
This magazine is a celebration of our first 60 years. I hope you enjoy it.
The words “family business” conjure images of parents teaching their children the ins and outs of the shop they opened; a husband and wife working out of their home; or siblings teaming up to create a start-up for a crazy idea they had one night. But family businesses, much like families, come in all shapes and sizes. Ours began like most do — small. Over the past 60 years, both our family and our business have grown. On the family front, my grandparents Anthony and Joyce had six children, who gave them 17 grandchildren; our fourth generation is at a count of 23 — for now . On the business side, what my grandfather started with his cousin as one small store with a handful of employees has slowly, organically grown to 64 stores across the Gulf Coast with 7,000 team members. This growth has been surreal at times (what Pa must be thinking!) but also somehow expected , the same way we expect families to multiply with each successive generation. Our family business has become a larger player in its industry, with more people and new processes all the time. Sometimes it feels very different than it did just a few short years ago, but the conundrum is that it also feels like we’re just doing what we’ve always done. And I believe that’s part of the magic of what we’re doing here, and why we can continue to grow brick-and-mortar retail stores in this age of “everything internet.” We can take that mystery of “same yet different” and deploy it in our business model. We can provide cool, up-and-coming technologies when they make sense for our business and guests, while remaining true to our roots of providing unsur- passed customer service inside all our stores. I am “only” 37 (no snide remarks!), and as a working mom of three young children I’m a bigger utilizer of our pickup service, but I still really like to browse the store sometimes, picking out my own produce and meat and just seeing what’s new. I hope you like doing that at Rouses too; if so, I’ll see you there. Family First, Then Business by Ali Rouse Royster, 3rd Generation
Local Seafood Our Specialty! We can all agree that the best seafood in the world comes from right here on the Gulf Coast. We buy our Gulf fish, shrimp, crabs, crawfish and our wide range of oysters from dedicated, local fishermen with whom we have close personal and professional relationships. During crawfish season you can get our famous Louisiana crawfish hot from the pot, 11am to 7pm, every day. An Old-Fashioned Butcher Shop We have full-service butcher shops in our stores, and trusted butchers available to answer your questions about cuts, grades and cooking techniques. Every steak is still cut by hand. Choose from steakhouse-quality USDA Prime beef and USDA Choice beef, or more affordable options. Most of our stores also have a dry-aged beef locker, in which the beef is aged at least 25 days. Authentic Cajun Specialties We’re proud to continue the South Louisiana tradition of crafting our own Cajun specialties and real Cajun food. Our authentic boudin, spicy andouille, sausages, hogshead cheese and stuffed meats are made with Rouse Family Recipes that go back three generations. Cooking and heating instructions are available at www.rouses.com. Prepared Foods You’ll always find something hot and delicious on our line. Depending on your location, you might find barbecue, pizzas or a Mongolian grill. All of our stores feature grab-and-go meals, including $5 daily deals, fresh sandwiches and salads, and heat-and- eat dinners. Soup & Salad Bars Our make-your-own salad bars feature an ever-changing selection of prepared salads and fresh-cut vegetables and fruits. Our hot soup menu changes daily, though you’ll always find our famous gumbo — it’s a favorite year-round.
Authentic Italian Italy has a cultural heritage that is felt everywhere in the country, but nowhere more than here on the Gulf Coast. We traveled to Italy in search of some of the best and most authentic Italian products, including Italian-made pastas, olive oils, cheeses and preserves. We also partnered with the Italian Trade Agency to add hundreds of Italian imports to our shelves. Look for the Delizioso logo on our Authentic Italian items. Wine, Spirits & Beer We have the Gulf Coast’s premier wine department, with wines at every price point, for both everyday and special occasions. We offer a range of bottle sizes of popular spirits, and an impressive selection of high-end and small-batch spirits and liqueurs, including gift-worthy bottles. And we get top honors for our craft beer selection, which includes cans, bottles and kegs from all over the Gulf Coast and the nation, plus import labels from around the world. Helping the Gulf Coast Grow Our local produce roots run more than 90 years deep. J.P. Rouse founded the City Produce Company in 1923, bringing fruits and vegetables from local, independent farms to the rest of the state and eventually to stores around the country. When his son, Anthony J. Rouse, Sr., opened his first grocery store in 1960, he made supporting his farmer neighbors a priority. Generations later, we are more committed than ever to our local farmers and to bringing you the very best this region has to offer.
PHOTOS BY ROMNEY CARUSO
In Our Stores
Everyday Low Prices We’ve locked in everyday low prices on thousands of items, including bread, dairy, grocery, meat, seafood, produce and frozen foods, for at least 60 days. By locking these low prices in, we can guarantee you get the best value on these items every time you shop. And we’re investing in lowering everyday prices on new products throughout the year. Fresh Flower Shop Our licensed floral directors are as picky about the flowers we sell as our chefs are about the ingredients that go into the foods we make. Visit www.rouses.com to order flowers for delivery within specified areas. Fresh Sushi You’ve probably seen our professional in-store sushi chefs handcrafting sashimi and sushi rolls. We also offer a variety of sampler platters, and sides like edamame and seaweed salad. Special orders and sushi platters are also available. Grocery Delivery & Pickup Order online at www.rouses.com for same- day delivery to your home or office, or for curbside pickup.
Eat Right with Rouses Imagine having your own personal dietitian with you when you shop. Our Rouses registered dietitian, April, has handpicked more than 500 grocery items that have lower sodium, less saturated fat, healthier fats, and more fiber and less sugar. Just look for the Eat Right logo on the shelf tag or package. We also offer an extensive selection of organic, natural, gluten-free, sugar-free, paleo and special diet grocery items. Private Label Products If Rouses Markets is on the label, you know it’s good. We have close relationships with the dairies that bottle our milk, bakeries that make our sandwich bread, and manufacturers that package our products. Every Rouses Markets private label food item has been personally tasted by the Rouse Family and is guaranteed to deliver the best quality at the best price. Support Your Local Food Bank Local food banks rely on donations from people just like you. We make it easy to give right at the grocery store. Just scan a coupon at any Rouses register to add to your bill, or purchase a pre-packed bag of canned goods for $10, which we will deliver for you.
A few minutes is all it takes to prepare a great meal with John Soules Foods Breaded Chicken. Great taste and made with the best quality premium ingredients. From our kitchen to yours, enjoy. QUICK. EASY. SIMPLE.
©2020 John Soules Foods, Inc.
Now you can take Inland home with you. Inland Market makes delicious restaurant-quality seafood products, Inland Lobster is your Maine source for the freshest lobster available, and Woodsmoke’s Wood Roasted Salmon will WOW you! Available at your local Rouses.
InlandMarketPremiumFoods.com InlandSeafood.com /InlandSeafood | @InlandSeafood
PROUD TO BE AN EMPLOYEE-OWNED COMPANY
A SAUCE SIMMERED IN TRADITION
® lowfat or fat free milk 1/2 cup - strawberries, hulled, chopped 1 tablespoon - honey
1/8 teaspoon - ground cinnamon 1 tablespoon - walnuts, chopped
Directions: Combine rst ve ingredients in the carafe of a blender. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, blend the mixture until smooth. Top with chopped walnuts.
Recipe courtesy of Milk. Love What’s Real.
Mr. Anthony by David W. Brown
A good entrepreneur can build a business from the ground up. A great entrepreneur can build a business from the ground up , literally.That was Anthony Rouse, the founder of Rouses Markets.Those who remember him recall the family man in coveralls who was always the hardest-working man in the room — or on the back of a bulldozer. He was a businessman’s businessman who pioneered an industry, brought innovation to the Gulf Coast grocery business, and founded a company that has grown for three generations and counting. But such successes don’t just happen; they are made to happen, and require sacrifice, dedication, and the kind of commitment to quality and service that few possess — and fewer still can keep going across a lifetime. Anthony was one such man, and if you are holding this magazine, it means you walked into one of his stores and cast your eyes on an enduring legacy with no sign of stopping. Roots in Local Produce Joseph “J.P.” Rouse immigrated with his parents and brother to the United States from Sardinia, Italy, in 1900. As a young man, he got into the produce business, eventually founding in 1923 a packing and shipping company named City Produce. The company bought from local farmers, then loaded fruits and vegetables on railcars, and shipped the goods as far as Alaska. If you were a farmer in Thibodaux, Louisiana, it was a pretty exciting deal, and local families benefited mightily from the company’s national reach. City Produce also sold locally, including from stalls at the French Market. In 1929, J.P.’s wife gave birth to a son, Anthony; 14 years later, the younger Rouse joined his father in the family business. No two ways about it: To do the job, you needed a strong back and a strong will, because this was hard work in a fiercely competitive industry. And Anthony came along during the back half of the Great Depression. For the Rouse family, success was the only option — it was the only way to keep food on the table. Success, however, was by no means guaranteed. Here is his story.
Anthony and Joyce Rouse, circa 1950
City Produce weathered the storm, and 11 years later, Anthony and his cousin Ciro took over the company when J.P. passed away. There they remained until 1960, when Anthony spotted trouble ahead for the produce business. The oil industry in Louisiana was reaching critical mass, and Anthony realized that workers would soon be in short supply, which meant produce would be in short supply, which meant business would soon go flat, if it could survive at all. So he and Ciro decided to make the leap to the grocery store business. “They named it Ciro’s, because when you hung the letters on the outside of the store, Ciro’s had fewer letters than Rouse’s,” says Donald Rouse with a laugh. He is Anthony’s son, and chairman of Rouses Markets today. “That’s a true story.” Anthony put every dime he had into the new business, borrowing from the bank what he didn’t have. He and Ciro eventually opened a small, 7,000-square-foot store in Houma, hiring two workers to help them. Donald eventually joined the team, pulling carts from the parking lot, bagging groceries, learning the business even as a boy. (This would become a family tradition that endures today; age 16 is a rite of passage for young Rouse family members interested in learning a trade that has served the community for three generations.) In 1975, Ciro retired and Donald bought his interest in the business. They renamed the store Rouse’s, though that apostrophe didn’t last long. The bulb always burned out on the lighted sign, and Anthony, ever the pragmatist, did away with it completely. The following year, Anthony and Donald began work on a new grocery store on St. Mary Street in Thibodaux. And from the start, when Anthony saw the contractors at work, he knew right away that this wouldn’t do at all. He knew he could do it better. “He did everything himself,” says Jeaneen Rouse, his daughter. “He didn’t like the way some contractors were building his store, so he got his contractor’s license. He taught himself everything. He wasn’t
14 MARCH•APRIL 2020
young when he did that, but he came from that generation where men did things for themselves. If he didn’t know how to do it, he was going to figure it out.” She adds with a smile, “We wanted a pool and we got a store.” Donald remembers the construction of that store well. “It was exciting. You know, it seemed like a big store at the time, but it wasn’t when we look back at it now. I remember business just picking up and growing slowly in volume. Same thing at Ciro’s in Houma. And I remember telling my dad one day, ‘Wow, we did this much business today — we used to do three times less .’” Donald’s favorite times were always when he was in the store, on the floor, working at Ciro’s or at that first Rouses. “Those are the most fun memories for me — it’s something my dad instilled in me — taking care of customers and serving customers and bagging groceries if I needed to do that, or bagging potatoes if I needed to, mopping the floors after we closed. Anything. Anything. Being at that level — I like serving people. My dad was the same way.” A Force of Nature Ask anyone who knew him and they’ll tell you the same thing: Anthony Rouse loved to work — and work hard. It wasn’t enough to work tirelessly in the stores. After he got his contractor’s license, he liked to build them, too — particularly the work involving heavy equipment. “I wanted to talk to him a lot of times,” says Donald, “I don’t know how many hundreds of times, and I would have to go out there and catch him on a bulldozer, or working outside moving trees or lumber, and I’d have to stop him so I could ask him some question, or perhaps tell him what’s going on, or just see if he needed help with anything. So many times I had to walk out through the mud to go talk to him that I started carrying boots in my truck!” Says Cindy Acosta, Anthony’s daughter: “He loved to work. He lived to work. His attitude was: ‘If somebody else could do it, I could do it.’” Donny Rouse, the third-generation (and current) CEO of Rouses Markets, agrees with that recollection of his grandfather. “He loved everything he did,” he says. “When we had construction going on, he wanted to be on that bulldozer. When he had family over to the house, he wanted to do the cooking. Walking in the stores, if the stocker was putting [groceries] on the shelf, he wanted to put groceries on the shelf. He loved being around people and he loved having his hands on everything.” But Anthony Rouse was not one for putting on airs, which could sometimes have humorous results. “My dad always wore these overalls, so nobody ever knew who he was,” says Cindy. “He blended in. One day I was at the store in the back, and he walked in and told this young stock boy to do something. And the boy said, ‘Who are you, old man?’ He found out!” Henry Eschete, who handled the Rouses Markets accounts for Bunny Bread and Evangeline Maid — a major task in the grocery business, bread being perhaps the ultimate staple — remembers Anthony fondly. “We talked at least once a week. He was always in the store, in those coveralls, and he was always looking at everything — what’s going on, you know, and seeing that it was done right. And nobody knew who he was!” He says that Anthony would stand around, or sit down somewhere, and just watch. “You’re going to laugh at this one,” he says. “Here I was, just talking to him in a store. And he noticed a bag boy sitting on the floor putting groceries on the shelf, and he was only using one hand. And Mr. Anthony told me, he said, ‘Henry, I think I paid for two hands.’” Anthony went over to the young stocker and patiently demonstrated the best way for stocking a shelf.
This was hard-won knowledge. When Anthony first decided to open Ciro’s, there was no instruction manual for how to run a grocery store. He had to learn it all. Ordering product. The best way to shelve items. How to handle refrigeration and keep those coolers running. How to handle drains and plumbing. Inventory. Sales numbers. Figuring out what needed ordering when. How to keep the parking lots clean and the buggies in order. How to price items and keep those prices competitive. Payroll. How to handle ads and marketing. He had to figure it all out. Every time the family traveled, they would visit grocery stores across the country to see what they were doing, and how Rouses might innovate back home. Anthony and Donald were the first in the area to bring a deli to their stores. The first to boil fresh crawfish on-site. The first to bring a florist. A bakery. Electronic barcode scanning at the checkout. That young stock clerk may not have realized it, but he was getting a master class in shelf stocking from a pioneer in the field. And the business lessons from Anthony’s City Produce days applied neatly to the grocery store business. “One time my dad and I were talking about competition,” says Donald, “and I was telling him about a big national chain that had a certain price on a specific item. And he says to me, ‘Well, let me tell you about that…. Back in the City Produce days, I would ship one packing car of shallots to, say, Chicago, and maybe my competitor next door would be shipping 10.’ So one day my dad and that business rival got into a little, I guess, When Mr. Anthony said he built a new store, he meant it literally: brick by brick, from the ground up. The first time I called on the family in 1974, I showed a product to Donald and he liked it, but he asked me to check with his dad, too. At the time, they only had the little grocery store, Ciro’s in Houma, and Mr. Anthony was in Thibodaux working on the family’s first supermarket. I went to see him, and when I got there, the store was under construction — there wasn’t even a parking lot. I’d never met Mr. Anthony, so I asked a worker who he was, expecting someone in a suit, behind a desk. The man pointed up toward the building under construction and said, ‘That’s him up there on the lift!’ I still call on Rouses. I’m there every week, and now I meet with the third generation. — Neal Rome, Broker
competitive thing over pricing, and my dad said: ‘No problem,’ and Dad dropped his price below what it was costing him to ship the item. My dad said: ‘I’m shipping one car, you’re shipping 10. Now let’s see who’s gonna last the longest.’” Donald continues, “And when I was talking to him about that, we only had, maybe, a couple of stores at the time, and this national chain had a lot of stores. And my dad said, ‘I’ll tell you what to do. Sell the item at cost. They’ll get the message. They’ll back off of you. Put it at cost. You’re going to sell one truck and they’ve got to sell a hundred trucks.’ And it worked.” Family Is the Most Important Thing, and then Business “He and my mom liked to go out,” says Cindy. “They went out every Saturday night dancing. They always told us they’d babysit any night besides Saturdays. The thing is, they were going dancing and we weren’t! Boy, he liked to dance.” Donald adds: “My dad always preached to us that there is a price to success. And he wasn’t talking about money. He was talking about your time, your devotion and what comes first: family. Then the business and stuff like that. But he told us that and tried to make sure that we always put the right thing first.” Anthony never retired. A man like that was a force of nature; he loved his job too much. But Donald gradually took over increasing responsibility from his father. He had prepared for the job his whole life. “I remember one time hearing in the next room one of my dad’s good friends,” he recalls. “I was pretty young, and my dad’s friend and he were speaking, and for some reason his friend said, ‘Why are you so hard on Donald?’ And his answer was: ‘Because he’s going to be the one.’ “It stuck with me, yeah,” says Donald, quietly. Donald’s son Donny would likewise one day take over the business and, like Donald, he started out in the parking lots snagging buggies, working his way up over the decades. But the lessons from his grand- father started much earlier than that. “I rode around with him a lot as a kid, and he talked to me a lot,” Donny says. “I remember he just talked and talked and talked about everything. He wasn’t rambling — this was about the business or about life, and this is when I was young, eight, maybe 10. I still think about those talks pretty much every day. And I think I learned a good bit from them, because I am here today in this role.” He continues, “There’s a lot of pressure being in a family business. My grandfather, and my father — they were the best, and just to follow in their footsteps — to keep the business going for 7,000 employees — “We were building a store in Houma,” recalls Donald, “and I remember one time pulling up to the job site, and I see six guys standing around a big hole. They’re looking down there. I hear a chain saw going, so I walk up there and ask, ‘Where’s my dad?’ They say: ‘He’s in the hole down there cutting something in the way.’ I say, ‘What is he doing down there? Why aren’t y’all down there?’ They told me: ‘ You tell him that! ’” Donald recalls with a laugh, “I said, ‘You’re right,’ and I walked away.” That work ethic, and Anthony’s honesty and integrity, is at the heart of the Rouses business philosophy. And the third generation running the stores and main office today learned from him firsthand. The lessons never stopped. “I was 17 or 18 years old, and I was running the seafood depart- ment at one of the stores,” says Blake Richard, who is today a Rouses store manager. “It was about a week after Katrina, and Granny and is a lot of pressure. And I enjoy it.” But that man Anthony could work.
Pa, they were back at home — they were by themselves because everyone was busy running the store. And I remember he came to the store and said, ‘I need you, boy.’” Blake arranged to have his shifts covered and spent the next few days helping his grandfather clean up after the storm. “I woke at five o’clock every morning with Pa, and he would get on his tractor and I was helping with branches.” A tree had been uprooted in the back of the house, and when Anthony tried to pull the rest of it free, a root broke a water line. “It’s shooting out everywhere,” says Blake, “and I remember he said, calmly, ‘Come see, boy.’ And it’s hot as can be — I’m out there, it’s just me, Pa and Granny — and Pa gave me a shovel and said, ‘I need you to keep going down until you hit metal.’ And it’s a long way down!” Anthony had Blake searching for a water valve. “I had no idea what I was doing. So finally, I hit metal. And he says, ‘OK, boy I need you to dig three feet down and five feet across.’ And I’m like — all right!” he laughs. “He would even comment on it the whole time — I was digging the hole wrong , according to him. And finally, I dug this enormous hole, shut the valve off myself, and we grab this big Bobcat tractor; we go out there and I have to wrap chains around the trunk covered in fire ants , and Pa takes off and this thing is popping wheelies dragging this big old tree.” The tree’s remains finally removed, Anthony looks at Blake and says, “Now don’t do what I did and break the water line, but that’s how you fix everything else.” Blake says, “I’ll never forget that. He wanted to make sure we knew how to dig a ditch right. He would do everything in his power to teach us.” A Legacy of Service Anthony Rouse died in 2009 at the age of 79. Today Rouses Markets has grown to 64 locations along the Gulf Coast, with more to come. “Toward the end of his life,” says Cindy, “he still went into the office every day, but he never had his own office. He never wanted one.” Donald says, “He was a shrewd businessman, but a good-hearted businessman. He raised us, showed us how to live, and showed us how to live in the business world. And then in his final days, he showed us how to die. He died with integrity.” But he worked until the last. “I remember the day before he died, he was in his room, and he was on oxygen. And he asked me, he says, ‘What were the sales yesterday?’ So I gave him a rough number. And he said, ‘No, no. Per store .’ So I said, ‘All right!’ I went to get my computer, opened it up, and he sat there and listened, and would question me on specific stores. And the old man was dying, but he still had it in him — that amazed me. What he was going to do with that information, I don’t know, but he wanted to know, you know, how we were doing. And we were doing well, and that pleased him.” His legacy lives on, both in the Rouse family and in the thriving, family-owned business he built. “I am proud to say we have 7,000 team members,” says Donald. “We are not only responsible for the company, but for them as part of the company.” The Rouses experi- ence applies not only to the men and women who work there today, but those who have worked at one store or another for decades. “I’ve had so many people come up to me and say their first job was at Rouses. You can’t imagine. If I heard that once, I heard it 5,000 times. And that’s a good feeling, to know they still remember it, and to hear how it helped them. That’s one of my proudest achievements.”
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CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Rouses ad circa 1984; Donny Rouse working in the butcher shop at store #1 in Thibodaux; celebratory grand opening ribbon cutting at Rouses #14 in Metairie, circa 1995; Meat manager at Rouses #4 in Houma, circa 1983; Mr. Anthony on a bulldozer, age 77; Ali Rouse Royster working at our corporate office; Tim Acosta at Rouses #4 in Houma, circa 1983
Rouses Means Local
Communities grow together. On any number of holidays, you’ve likely dashed into a Rouses Market at some point to pick up an item you forgot to get on your previous trip — some ingredient that makes or breaks your famous casserole, some seasoning you thought sure you had at home but you don’t. Or maybe you’re picking up theThanksgiving turkey, cooked and with all the fixings. Maybe it’s Halloween, and you’re preparing to see the delighted faces of children wearing superhero costumes and holding out hollow plastic pumpkins. Cakes on birthdays, crawfish for graduation celebrations, “grazings” for Super Bowl parties, cabbage for New Year’s Day….With each of these events and all of this food that you bring into the most intimate occasions in your home, any Rouses employee will tell you that providing the necessary goods is a humbling responsibility that Rouses takes very seriously.We are one community. To shop at Rouses is to shop at a local, family-owned company that carries local products. Many of those products are so successful that you might not even have known they were from Rouses local areas. And as Rouses has grown over the last 60 years, we have never stopped finding the best local products, the best local produce, the best local meats and seafood. Together we have grown, Rouses and the community, in a spirit of entrepreneurship.
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Rouses Means Local
Community Coffee by sarah baird
There’s something about a family-owned business that just feels comforting. In our increasingly disconnected, harried world, interacting with people who have committed themselves to making a single company the best it can possibly be — in some cases, for gener- ations — feels downright novel. These companies possess the storied history and interpersonal respect that comes from working alongside parents, siblings and cousins over many years to perfect a single recipe, and to build trust with customers to always do the right thing. There’s a sense of tradition and a feeling of responsibility for the family legacy that imbue a successful family business model. Local, family-owned businesses understand the deep power of community, and what it means to be part of something bigger than yourself. This is why, for over 100 years, Community Coffee has put their community of neighbors and coffee drinkers first every step along the way. Whether brewing up a cup of the chicory blend or the classic dark roast, folks have been able to sip with confidence, knowing that the family behind their morning caffeine boost has been steeped in the coffee-making tradition for more than a century. And for Matt Saurage, fourth-generation owner of Community Coffee, working as part of the company is so much more than a Louisiana-proud, family tradition (though it is that too). It’s a way to recommit, each and every day, to the friends and consumers who make up the Community Coffee, well, community. Below are key tenets that any good community member should embrace — whether you’re getting more involved in your hometown, book club or bowling league — as demonstrated by the lessons Saurage has learned growing up immersed in the family-owned business that he’s now leading into the future.
Good Community Members Remember Their Roots
time; who believe in what we do and give us feedback. We’re very appreciative for not only our customers, but for all the dialogue. It’s a community, right? It’s the exchange of ideas — even criticism — and we’re very appreciative for it.” What’s important to Saurage is the ability to give back, by creating jobs and other opportunities — but even more so, by improving the quality of life in the communities where he works, and where his customers and employees live. This can mean very small or simple things, like giving donations to nonprofits to help them grow. It can mean supporting education in his employees’ and customers’ communities in a way that can make a lasting change, providing these communities with the tools needed to create new businesses and new opportunities. “I think if you look behind any successful business, you will see that they are also actively giving back to their community. I think it’s a natural thing: The employees, the owners — they all want to do that, and it’s just a matter of doing it,” says Saurage. “Taking action and giving back to our local community has always been part of our DNA. It’s become more formalized as we’ve grown into three community giving pillars: education, support of our service men and women, and the impact we can make in sustainability and the environment, since we are an agricultural product.”
“When I was young, I would follow my dad to work. I wanted to be like my dad: I wanted to drink coffee, and I wanted to go to work, and I wanted to have a purpose. After school or during the holidays, I would come sit with him — and my grandfather — and just learn about what it takes to be in business with other people,” says Saurage. He developed an appreciation for the strength of relation- ships between employees, and how that goes deeper than just a job. It’s more about being part of a unit — a family unit. Saurage says he carried the importance of that idea through his teenage years and into early college, eventually joining Community Coffee for that particular reason. “I wanted to be with a local business, family- owned, that really had connectivity and appreciation for the people that worked with them in growing the business over a long period of time,” says Saurage. “My first job was actually in a grocery store … the summer when I was 13. And I would also work for the owner during the holidays, stocking shelves and unloading trucks. So I have a deep apprecia- tion not only for working with small business, but for the challenge of being a grocer and what it takes to be a successful grocer,” Saurage explains. Although that grocery store summer job was the only experience he had on that side of the business before getting into the manufacturing, marketing and sales of coffee, the lessons learned there have remained important to Saurage. “As I got older, I wanted to prove myself to the family business — that I could get a great education and pursue my interests — and at the time I wanted to be an engineer. So, there was a period of time where I didn’t think much about the coffee company. And I felt that by being independent, I would be happy. But what I found was that I wasn’t, and it was always on my mind, and I wanted to be home. That’s what drew me back in 1994 to the family, and to the business, because I missed the people that I had met and knew.” Good Community Members Always Listen — and Lift as They Climb “Our first name is ‘Community,’” says Saurage. “And we have to remember that we are successful because of those around us who support us; who work for us; who are there over a long period of
Matt Saurage and Norman Saurage III
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