CECILIA, La. — Tera Simon and Angel Junker teamed up several months ago to purchase the old Webster's Meat Market on Grand Point Highway in Cecilia. Back in 1947 the building was a bar owned by Webster Calais, who was nicknamed Shookta by locals.
At the time it had the longest bar in Louisiana and it was the go-to place on Sunday afternoons, drawing in large crowds and big name celebrities.
"So many people played there, Fats Domino," says Simon, talking about the rich history of the nearly 80-year-old building.
Webster Calais would go around Cecilia in his '57 Chevy to give people a ride to the dance.
"My aunt actually met her husband in this bar when it was a dance hall, so there's so much history here," adds Simon.
When the drinking age was raised and rules became more strict, Calais closed the bar in 1969. He reduced the building's size by half and reopened it as Webster's Meat Market where Simon says "they butchered, they did plate lunches, they made the same boudin that we serve today."
When Simon and her friend Junker saw the building up for sale earlier this year, they saw the opportunity to fill a deep void. When asked why they wanted to take on the monumental task of converting the old building into a restaurant, Junker emphatically explains, "Community! It was needed here."
The two Cecilia residents decided to turn the historic building into Cafe Shookta's, after asking the late owner's daughter to honor him by using his nickname for the cafe. As it stands, it's the only restaurant in the small St. Martin Parish community.
Simon boasts, "in Cecilia it's the only place you can come sit down, have your coffee, eat some biscuits, sit down and eat your plate lunch and visit with your friends."
The pair hopes this new gathering place for the community sparks growth by encouraging others to develop and showcase the best of Cecilia.
So the next time you're in St. Martin Parish, swing by and get yourself a Shookta Burger (seasoned beef patty, boudin patty, pepperjack cheese and Shookta's Sauce) and experience a little bit of history.