Settle in with a plate lunch at Broussard's Shade Tree Cafe

Historic building behind a sign and under oak trees
Shade Tree is run from the home of Lonnie Pope and Eric Letulier, built in the 1800s, with well-tended grounds including live oak trees, pond, and verdant gardens, all illuminated by string lights at night. Photo by Erin Holden

There were many difficult decisions my husband and I made when we were planning our wedding, but who we would choose for the catering was not one of them: it was always going to be Two Guys Catering, a Broussard business owned and operated by Chef Lonnie Pope and his partner Eric Letulier. We had long been fans of the fresh seafood salads, crab cakes, hearty burgers, and basically anything we ordered from their outdoor restaurant, Shade Tree Cafe.

The whole operation is run from their home, built in the 1800s, with well-tended grounds including live oak trees, pond, and verdant gardens, all illuminated by string lights at night. The outdoor kitchen itself was originally a nineteenth century barn, then a gambling facility in the 1920s, and an apartment after that before the couple converted it to a commercial kitchen to establish Two Guys in 2001. For almost a decade, Pope continued working regular jobs with catering gigs on the weekends.

“In 2010, I was turning 45, and I decided that I was tired of working corporate jobs,” Pope says. “I said, ‘I’m going to open up a little plate hamburger place.’ And that's what Shade Tree started as in 2010. So we've been open now for 13 years now.”

Though the business has an active Facebook page that updates patrons on when they are open and what’s on the current menu, they don’t rely much on online marketing. It is largely word-of-mouth. With the success of Two Guys Catering, there are times (just after the holidays, and for about a month during the hottest part of summer), when the Cafe is closed. It just reopened on February 6 with a tempting menu of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, veggie beef stew, fried crab fingers, and sesame tuna wraps, along with their jumbo crab cake special. 

Soft shell crabs for the Shade Tree special: soft shell crab poboy

All the offerings at Shade Tree are fresh, with essentially “zero imports,” adds Chef Lonnie, with the exception of chocolate from Belgium or France for some of the desserts. One of the most popular menu items, the soft shell crab po-boy, is well worth the hype. When he receives a fresh catch, you might see a Facebook announcement to get it while you can, because they run out fast.

“I like to do a lot of seafood and steak options, and basically what the old people used to cook,” says Chef Lonnie. “That's what my plate lunches are. I've had so many people tell me, ‘That's just like my grandma's,’ or one man who told me he wanted the shrimp and crab stew because it was like his mom's who’d passed away. That really inspires me.”

When Chef Lonnie isn’t busy in the kitchen, he’s visiting with his customers, sharing in their love of food and family histories, talking about his recent travels or experiences on the job. Maybe even a ghost story or two about the property. You could come by to pick up a plate lunch to enjoy at home or work, but — if you haven’t yet — make sure to experience dining there. Bring a cooler of beer or a bottle of wine, settle in with your friends for the evening, and savor the moment.