Lori and Richard Hurst, owners of Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn, join Discover Lafayette to discuss their family business celebrating its 90th year in operation. Richard Hurst is a third-generation family member who has worked in the restaurant since he was four years old when he started peeling potatoes and shrimp.
Discover Lafayette is grateful for the support of Eat Lafayette and Lafayette Travel for the opportunity to highlight our local restaurants, starting with Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn this month!
Lori Hurst is the public spokesperson promoting locally owned restaurants, serving as 2022 Chair of Eat Lafayette. The “water girl” of Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn, Lori is passionate about sharing the many reasons we should all celebrate our Cajun culture.
Lori Hurst, chair of Eat Lafayette, says, “Restaurant people give so much back to the community. All those fundraisers…those are local restaurants supporting you. It’s so important to eat locally. Support our local economy. You’re missing out if you’re not experiencing our local restaurants. Lafayette has so much to offer!
The Hursts are carrying on the rich legacy of Hulo “Poor Boy” Landry, who started Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn in 1932. As the Hursts tell it, Hulo used to hang out with his uncle at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans where he learned to cook by working with the guys in the kitchen. During the Depression, everyone brought something to the pot to make a meal to feed a crowd. Lori Hurst says back then you either put something on bread or added water to it to make a gumbo. “Poor Boy sandwiches” were a delicious meal outcome that originated in New Orleans and Hulo took a liking to them. He brought the concept back to Lafayette.
After developing an allergy to flour while working for Evangeline Maid bread and having to find employment to take care of his family, Hulo Landry opened a snowball business selling three snowcones for 5 cents during the Depression. A man who liked to eat, he packed a huge ‘poor boy sandwich’ lunch as he left home each day to sell his wares. His customers soon clamored for these sandwiches that no one in Lafayette had ever seen. Soon loyal customers convinced him to add his unique poor boy sandwiches to the snowball cart menu. And one benefactor, Judge Kaliste Saloom, helped Hulo open his first small restaurant on St. John Street in Lafayette so that people could sit down together and socialize while they ate his delicious food.
Hulo Landry pictured in 1932 in his first business enterprise, his snowball stand, which was the genesis of Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn which has been in business for 90 years.
Success led Hulo to open up a larger restaurant in 1939 on the Vermilion River at Pinhook near the bridge. Originally known as Huff’s Riverside Inn when he purchased the property, Hulo renamed it “Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn” in recognition of the nickname given to him by his loyal patrons. The restaurant endured flood after flood, even the renowned flood of 1940 which closed it down for three months after the waters rose to the roof of the building. Lori Hurst recounted how Hulo had to abide by a city agreement to have his restaurant workers hand push the Pinhook Bridge open to accommodate water traffic throughout the day.
Hulo Landry’s tenacity for staying in business enabled Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn to remain open. It become the first air-conditioned restaurant in Lafayette. The restaurant enjoyed continuous success and upon Hulo’s early death in 1958, his son-in-law and daughter, Larry and Kathlyn Hurst, took over the management of Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn. They prospered on the same premise that brought success and respect from the community to Hulo Landry: quality in food and perfection in service.
In 1977, Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn moved to its present site in Broussard at 240 Tubing Road where every family member has worked in some capacity ever since.
Larry Hurst, Richard’s dad and the second-generation family member to run the restaurant, served as an ambassador for the Cajun Culture food revolution in the U. S. He taught a lot of famous chefs such as Paul Prudhomme to blacken redfish and top it off with crawfish. Lori Hurst says, “Mr. Larry was just a quiet country boy taking care of his family and wife. Chef Prudhomme was a natural showman and took off with the redfish concept. Mr. Larry was also the first to offer a lobster tank, to offer emu and alligator, and to serve crawfish etouffee. No one sold etouffee in a restaurant before Mr. Larry as it was more of a home-cooked dish in the 1960s. People had always boiled and peeled crawfish at home.”
Today, Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn has an extensive menu that includes the favorites of patrons throughout the years. Crabmeat Imperial is one of the oldest dishes on the menu and the Lump Crabmeat dish has been # 1 for over forty years. Lori Hurst loves the crabmeat dishes as they are filling and delicious! “No one else can rock a crabmeat dish like Richard Hurst!”
Speaking of crabmeat, prices have skyrocketed in the aftermath of COVID. Lori Hurst says, “People used to import seafood from China. The pressure is now on Louisiana to supply fresh crabmeat. Crabmeat has gone up in price by 500% for Riverside Inn. Louisiana has enough crab meat to supply the U. S. Louisiana does not need to import crabmeat. But people around the U. S. and the world are willing to pay anything to get their hands on Louisiana crabmeat. It’s just a matter of supply and demand. New Yorkers are now saying ‘this is so much better than imitation crabmeat. It’s a reality check of what’s been going on.”
Richard Hurst is now holding a baton that’s been carried for 90 years, according to Lori Hurst. This loving wife is proud of her husband and the legacy they sustain in offering Cajun food to all of us, both locals and those visiting Acadiana! Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn’s chefs make 98% of their food, sauces, condiments, and other offerings from scratch. You will not find a better place to experience truly authentic Cajun cuisine!
Lori Hurst is the proud chair of Eat Lafayette and stressed how local restaurants help each other out. If Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn is out of something, she can call and say, “Hey you got this?” And she says her restaurant reciprocates with others, never hesitating. “The camaraderie is touching,” Lori says, and further emphasizes: “It is so important to eat local. I am very passionate about eating local, and shopping locally. I want everyone who was born here to remember how blessed they are to have been born here. Other people who tour come here just to eat. You are missing out if you’re not experiencing our local restaurants. Lafayette has so much to offer.”
Lafayette, Louisiana offers a plethora of ‘mom-and-pop’ restaurants that serve delicious Cajun and Creole foods, among other cuisines. To get a flavor of all our region offers, visit https://www.lafayettetravel.com/eatlafayette/ to check out what may suit your palate!
For more information on Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn, please visit https://www.poorboysriversideinn.com/. We thank Lori and Richard Hurst for all they offer to our community!