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LeBlanc’s legacy continues with construction of new store

LeBlanc’s Food Stores, a Gonzales institution since 1961 when L.C. LeBlanc opened the first on South Airline Highway, is building its first grocery store and adding a second one to the Gonzales area near the intersection of Airline Highway and Duplessis Road.

LeBlanc's Food Stores is building its first grocery store -- rather than moving into an already existing building -- and plans to open its second location in Gonzales on Airline Highway in November.

LeBlanc’s Food Stores is building its first grocery store — rather than moving into an already existing building — and plans to open its second location in Gonzales on Airline Highway in November.

“It’s always been a dream to build from the ground up,” says Brooke LeBlanc Knight, a fourth-generation member of the family-owned company and its director of corporate communications. “(Marcy and Randy LeBlanc) both have over 40 years’ experience in the business and wanted to put their ideas in that store.”

Meaning, the LeBlancs are advancing the family legacy with a sushi bar in the new store, as well as mezzanine area where shoppers can dine-in, choosing from a variety of meal options that include hot meals and seafood choices.

LeBlanc Knight says shoppers will also have a variety of prepared meals to choose from for cooking at home, such as porkchops stuffed with cornbread dressing.

“We have some more exotic items — so you can have fresh, whole rabbits,” she says.

The new grocery store, which is expected to open by November, will be the eighth one operating in the Capital Region.

LeBlanc’s Food Stores sold its Walker store in May to Carter’s, who had pursued the purchase to add another grocery to its four already operating in Livingston Parish, LeBlanc Knight says. The deal worked out since it was the only store LeBlanc’s was operating in the area and it’s smaller than the other existing stores, she adds.

The new store in Gonzales will be 55,000 square feet and will have an additional 18,000 square feet of retail space on the side near Duplessis Road. LeBlanc Knight says it’s too early to name the tenants coming to the retail space since the family business is still working on lease agreements.

LeBlanc Knight says the grocery store with retail space is modeled after the other buildings that LeBlanc Food Stores have moved in.

“None of our stores were just stand-alone buildings,” she says.

Beginning in 2000, LeBlanc Food Stores expanded from two stores — Gonzales and Paincourtville — to eight by 2009.

The Paincourtville store has since moved to Plattenville.

Improvements and remodels have also recently been made to the Prairieville and Gonzales stores, LeBlanc Knight says.

The new LeBlanc’s just north of Gonzales will not be the only new grocery store coming to Ascension Parish.

“It’s always been a dream to build from the ground up.” – Brooke LeBlanc Knight, Director of Corporate Communications

In June, the parish Planning Commission approved a Neighborhood Market by Wal-Mart — which, at 41,000 square feet, is a smaller-scale version of a typical Wal-Mart — to be built on a 6.2-acre site at the southeast corner of the intersection between La. 42 and La. 44 in the Prairieville area.

Lester Kenyon, the parish’s public information officer, says the Neighborhood Market still has yet to have its site and landscaping plans to be approved, noting there is no tentative date set for construction to begin.

LeBlanc's Food Stores rendering

LeBlanc’s Food Stores rendering

Wal-Mart also plans to operate a gas station at its Neighborhood Market, according to The Advocate.

LeBlanc’s is spending $16 million to build its new store after spending $3.3 million to acquire the site, says LeBlanc Knight.