Iconic Opelousas Venue Destroyed By Fire
Just hours after Opelousas restaurant Frank's Poboys announced it was closing after 70 years in business, another longstanding business in the city was ravaged by fire.
Firefighters responded to the call at Toby's Lounge and Reception Center around 2 p.m. Not too long after firefighters responded, the first photos from the scene appeared on social media.
A couple of hours later, we saw the full extent of the damage caused by the fire. The dancehall and restaurant which stood on LA 182 near Judson Walsh Road for nearly 70 years, was destroyed.
A. E. "Toby" Veltin opened the business as Toby's Little Lounge in 1954 near the community and railroad station named for his family. In fact, Toby's Little Lounge was less than a mile away from another dancehall Veltin owned, the Cedar Lane Club. Veltin opened the lounge eight years after he had purchased another supper club, the Oak Grove in Lafayette. That venue, later known as Toby's Oak Grove, closed in 1990.
Over the years, Toby's Lounge changed ownership and closed a couple of times. Hily Lalonde and Wayne Doucet bought the property and the business and reopened the venue in 2013.
The news of the venue's destruction caused grief in the community. Not only was Toby's a popular restaurant and music venue, it was also a place where many civic organizations had held meetings or fundraisers. Countless couples held their wedding receptions there. It truly was a place where the community congregated for special occasions.
On Tuesday morning, Lalonde responded to the outpouring to support she and Doucet had received. In her Facebook post, Lalonde says it's her hope that the restaurant will rise from the ashes and return to business.
The Opelousas Fire Department is investigating the cause of the fire.