Discovering Spanish Town's Treasure
Capitol Grocery still a Landmark
Situated on Spanish Town Road between 7th Street and Costello Lane since 1914, Capitol Grocery is one of downtown Baton Rouge's oldest and best-kept secrets.
Offering a basic supply of food products, such as milk, bread, beer and peanut butter, the grocery is a key convenience for those who live and work in the heart of the city's center. But most visitors agree it is much more than a convenient grocery store.
"It is a meeting place, a coffee shop, an eatery, a sidewalk café, and a local art venue all at the same time," says Derrell Cohoon, a longtime Spanish Town resident who visits the store daily.
Mike Herschman, co-owner and manager of Capitol Grocery agrees the store is more than just a central location for Spanish Town residents.
"It's a warm and friendly place," Herschman says. "It helps contribute to the strong sense of community that's very special and unique to this neighborhood.
With its friendly staff and welcoming tables where patrons are invited to sit and enjoy their meal, a cup of coffee or just catch up on the latest neighborhood news, the store has an old-time atmosphere that sets it apart from any supermarket chain.
"You can get a pound of coffee, an ice cream bar or a gallon of milk here or at Wal-Mart," says Jeff Duhe', chairman of the Historic Spanish Town Civic Association. "But what you can't get is the latest news that someone's cat had kittens. You can't see familiar faces or get to know your neighbors at Wal-Mart."
When asked about the versatility and unique character of Capitol Grocery, Hamilton Shaw, who purchased the property in 2000, gives all the credit to the patrons. "It's not really my store," he says. "It is the people's store, and it has a life of its own."
"Many stores like this around the country have gone to the wayside, but this one has survived- mainly because of the neighborhood," Shaw says.
Indeed, there's no doubt that Capitol Grocery reflects the eclectic personality of Spanish Town. Vintage 1950s style wood paneling lines the walls and tightly packed shelves run contrary to what you might find in big-box stores.
Meanwhile, a large area in the front of the 1,500 sq. ft. store resembles a New Orleans-style flea market, featuring pottery made by local artists, a small selection of pre-read books from Cottonwood, handmade wood furniture and other unique collectibles.
Fresh, hot meals served daily
In addition to its unique character and inviting atmosphere, the grocery has also developed a solid reputation for the fresh, delicious meals it serves throughout the day.
Local lobbyist Bruce Bradley is one of the many customers who regularly visits the store on his way to and from the State Capitol.
"It's a great place to escape to for lunch during the Legislative Session," Bradley says. It's quick, convenient and the food is great."
Breakfast diners are treated to an array of homemade biscuits topped with their choice of bacon, eggs, ham or cheese. Daily lunch specials, which are served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., include traditional southern favorites such as Smothered Pork Chops, Fried Catfish, and Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage. The deli serves up half-pound Hamburgers, Chicken BBQ Sandwiches and an assortment of Po-Boys all day long, and the After Five menu features a variety of freshly made pizzas that can be bought whole or by the slice.
"My favorite is the Spaghetti and Meatballs on Wednesdays," says John Sykes, who has lived in Spanish Town for 12 years. "There's just something about that sauce."
Prices are reasonable by any standard, ranging from 99 cents for a breakfast biscuit to $5.99 for most daily specials.
Despite new parking restrictions in Spanish Town, you can almost always find a spot near the store. Capitol Grocery has two reserved spaces in front of the store on Spanish Town Road, and four more spaces are available across the street on the corner of North 7th Street.
Store hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to noon on Sunday. Breakfast biscuits are available as soon as the grocery opens, lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and dinner items are available starting at 5 p.m. Monday though Friday.
Breakfast and lunch catering is also available Monday through Friday, but patrons are encouraged to call ahead. To learn more or place an order today, contact the Capitol Grocery at (225) 387-2691 or stop by 701 Spanish Town Rd.
Interested in experiencing Downtown living in Spanish Town? Visit our Downtown Residential Living page to search for available property in Spanish Town or other Downtown housing options.