Fans of local cuisine have lost a long-standing restaurant icon.
William “Bill” Spahr Jr., founder of Spahr seafood restaurants in Des Allemands, Thibodaux and Galliano, passed away on November 20. He was 94 years old.
The 3-restaurant chain grew from a bar with a fishing and hunting store along US 90’s. Old gas pumps still stand outside the restaurant where boaters once did. full before heading for the bayous. The restaurant, known for its motto “Where Catfish is King”, is famous for its platters of fried catfish, Bloody Marys and seafood okra.
Great-grandson Tyler Dufrene said that until last year Spahr would make the restaurant’s okra himself. Dufrene remembers Spahr’s love for a beer at the bar and for entertaining guests and friends.
“One of my favorite memories is just walking into your house and smelling this okra, cooking on the stove,” Dufrene said. “Doing what he loved, he loved to cook, he loved to entertain. He loved talking with people. Everyone who met him loved him and it was inspiring to see him in his element, able to cook and share his wonderful talent with others.
Dufrene said the traits he admired most in his great-grandfather were his dedication, intelligence and work ethic.
“He didn’t let anything stop him. He pursued his dreams and his vision. And he did his best. And that’s one of the things that I try to experience as a teacher today, ”said Dufrene. “I am incredibly proud of the legacy he started and leaves to future generations.”
One of Spahr’s sons, William “Billy” Spahr III, said his father was a kind and generous man who helped anyone whenever people tried to start a business in the area.
“He’s never been one to compete. He thought that the more people we had starting a business, the more people would be drawn to the area, ”he said.
On Facebook, the restaurant posted:
“He has been an inspiration and a mentor to us and to so many people who have worked for Spahr Seafood Restaurant over the years. It does us a great honor to build on his heritage and continue to live the values that have made him an icon in our communities and our industry. “
Her daughter Thelezia Spahr Folse said she most admired his ability to take matters into his own hands and his ability to make lifelong friends.
“When he’s been through tough times he always said, ‘We’re just going to get out of this and get back on our feet. “He’s always had that attitude,” Folse said. “He said, ‘You took my land and now I’m going to build something.’ So he always took something that happened to him and he transformed it for the best. “
Another son, Donald Spahr, said his father taught him a lot about hunting, fishing, building and operating equipment.
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“And he always told me not to always go to work and work, but to try to be as hard-working as possible and to travel the world without a problem,” Donald said. “He was a good father and he taught me a lot.”
He said he imagines his father is in heaven now, opening a bar and entertaining all his friends.
“Oh yeah, someone bought a property over there. He opens it. I’m sure, I’m sure he is, ”Donald said.
This article originally appeared on The Courier: “A Kind and Generous Man”: In memory of Spahr’s Seafood Restaurants founder Bill Spahr Jr.