Growth of the bourgeois meat market over a century

SCHRIEVER, La. (AP) – Bourgeois Meat Market, a butcher shop that began in the days of horse-drawn carriages, plans to open a second location in Gray early next year.

The 100-plus-year-old local institution is popular for its much-vaunted beef jerky, as well as its blood sausage, pig’s head cheese, and other Cajun offerings.

It will continue to operate its current butcher shop, along Bayou Terrebonne in Schriever, said fourth-generation owner Beau Bourgeois.

And the second location, currently under construction and slated to open next year, will give the business more room to grow.

The new location was supposed to be completed two years ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida delayed the process.

“It’s a terrible time, but we’ve kind of outgrown this place,” Bourgeois, 35, said.

At approximately 9,000 square feet, the new location is approximately twice the size of the current store.

Founded in 1891, the company began in the front yard of Valéry Jean Baptiste Bourgeois.

“He started by slaughtering a cow or a pig and going from house to house on horseback and in a carriage. Those were the days before refrigeration,” said Beau Bourgeois. “Later, he ended up building a small smokehouse. … The reason they started doing this was so you could keep the sausage fresh for a few more days.

The first building was on the opposite side of the street where it is now. It moved to its current home on the bayouside after Valery Bourgeois returned from military service during World War II, and the old building was later demolished.

After adding to the location several times, the current site is ineffective due to the layout, said Beau Bourgeois.

“It’s not as effective as it could be,” he said. “For example, there is not enough space to stuff sausages and blood sausage at the same time.”

Because zones have been added as needed, employees must pass through kitchens and smokers to get from one end of the building to the other. The new location will solve these problems and expand the reception area for customers.

Bourgeois said the extra space will allow for more services, including a place where customers can quickly purchase specialty items like stuffed meats and daily plates.

The current site has 30 employees working at any one time, and Bourgeois said the plan is to split workers between the two sites. For the new site, he said, he needs to hire about 30 new employees.

“I’m really, really excited about this,” said Gretna employee Connor Finn, 32, who is looking forward to the extra space. “You have the production kitchen, then the service kitchen, and you also have the slicing room.”

Bourgeois has made a name for itself with its beef jerky, which has been hailed as one of the best by several publications over the years. In 2008, Garden & Gun magazine named it one of “100 Southern Foods You Absolutely, Positively Must Try Before You Die”.

Jake Heigl, a sales representative for Wellbore Integrity Solutions, said the cured cheese and pig’s head he buys from Bourgeois Meat Market are a big help in his job. And since he lives in Houma, the new location means a shorter commute to pick them up.

Heigl’s customers in Covington and New Orleans have never had Bourgeois’ products, and bringing them to meetings really excites them.

“It’s actually my little secret; they love it,” he said, lifting a package of beef jerky. “New Orleans and Covington are where most of my big clients are, so they don’t know anything about what’s going on here. They don’t have it there, so it’s new.

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