The Steamboat Warehouse
Full Steam Ahead!
The steamboat warehouse started construction in 1819 and opened its doors in 1823 along the banks of Bayou Courtableau in the small, port town of Washington, LA, established in 1720. The warehouse was originally a docking location for “steamboats carrying passengers and cargo” and “a gathering place for travelers, cotton brokers, steamboat mean, and roustabouts.” After the last steamboat left Washington in 1900, the warehouse was converted into a feed mill and eventually a general store. Following the encouragement from his wife “’Rusty’”, Jack Womack purchased the warehouse in 1976 from Ruth Fontenot to create a restaurant where locals and tourists could gather to enjoy Louisiana-style dining. In 1977, Womack had the warehouse restored with the help of his building contractor, Sebe Pierrel, and tried to keep as much of the original warehouse preserved. The Steamboat Warehouse still contains the same “bricks in the walls and on the floor” and cypress beams that “were felled, pit-sawed, and trimmed with local foot axes” after they floated down Bayou Courtableau hundreds of years ago. Preserving as many original features as possible led to Womack winning first place in the Business for Beauty Program which had more than 3,000 contestants entered. Memorabilia surrounds the entire restaurant and guests are greeted with framed pages from the Opelousas Gazette written in the 1840s, lanterns hanging from the beams, and encased tickets showing the prices of items listed from over one hundred years ago. Guests have a variety of authentic Louisiana food to choose from like “paddle-wheel potatoes, hush puppies, and garlic grits” that pair well with their steak or seafood entrees. Their delicious menu even landed the Steamboat Warehouse with awards like the best Cajun cuisine, étouffée, seafood platter, steak, and yams all throughout Acadiana. Since its establishment almost 200 years ago, the Steamboat Warehouse continues to provide a historic and appetizing experience for all guests that step through their doors and hopefully will continue to do so for many years to come.