Dearman’s to Re-Open in Bocage Center
When William Dearman opened Dearman’s Drug Store in 1960 in what was then the Twin Cedars Shopping Center, he specialized in the personal touch. For 40 years, customers, their children, and their grandchildren came to know Mr. Dearman and his staff for their service and friendly advice.
In 1960, a lot of drugstores still had soda fountains, but over the years, soda fountains were replaced by fast-food chains. Yet somehow Dearman’s soda fountain continued, right up until 2000 when Mr. Dearman retired.
South Baton Rougeans loved the hamburgers and malts and the 1950’s-style atmosphere. When Dearman’s Drug Store closed, the soda fountain continued as a stand-alone business. Dearman’s had become a popular meeting place. It was a way to step back in time.
Not long afterwards, a new owner took over and changed the name to Billy B’s. Then in 2006, a fire damaged the restaurant and it seemed destined to close forever.
But in 2007, a group of local business people decided to bring Dearman’s back.
Twin Cedars Shopping Center has changed. Wade Lemoine’s Esso station on the corner is gone, as is the barber shop, the grocery store, and TG&Y. The name has changed too. It’s been Bocage for many years, and it’s more popular than ever.
David Van Gelder and his partners replaced the floor, built new bathrooms, painted, bought almost all new equipment, and redecorated. But they had the good sense not to change the cooks.
In fact, they brought back Deloris London, who worked for Dearman’s and Billy B’s for 35 years, her sister Chantay Eckels, who worked for the same companies for 24 years, and Harold Combre with seven years at Dearman’s.
Old time customers stopped by and gave Dearman’s, The Original, the thumb’s up. Realtor Leanne LaPlace said it was just as good as ever and that she loved the fresh, bright atmosphere.
Dearman’s is known not only for great hamburgers, fries, and shakes but as a great meeting place for adults and kids alike.
Management was willing to host dance parties and other events after hours.
Radio station WSGX 95.1 FM held a fundraiser there, and the Donald Trump campaign held election parties.
Then on March 1 of this year, tragedy struck again. Another devastating fire destroyed the restaurant, causing a reported $500,000 in damage. This time, the owners of Bocage Village said they were cancelling Dearman’s lease and would not renew it.
Loyal Dearman’s customers were heart-broken, not knowing if their favorite haunt would ever reopen. Questions to Dearman’s remained unanswered, and the future of the restaurant seemed in doubt.
Then earlier this week, Dearman’s owner David Van Gelder announced that he had reached an agreement with Hill Properties, the owner of Bocage Village, to renew the lease.
Van Gelder said, “Everybody’s happy! We’re very pleased with the shopping center owners, and we’re very grateful for the outpouring of support from the community.”
Mitch Richardson of Hill Properties said, “We are pleased to have Dearman’s back as an important part of our family of tenants — uniquely local businesses which make our shopping center distinct.”
Van Gelder said Dearman’s will be rebuild much like it was. He previously said he would like to reopen by Sept. 1.