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Robie's transfers from the Russos to the Champagnes tonight

Posted at 2:40 PM, Mar 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-28 19:35:05-04

After almost 70 years in business, Robie's will not be owned by a Russo tomorrow.

That's when the Champagne family of Erath will take over the beloved Abbeville grocery store.

Jim Russo, who co-owned the business with his brother, Bobby, have sold the business their dad started to the Champagnes.

"My dad, Robie, started the company in 1953," Russo says. "My brother and I bought the company and from there we became second-generation owners.

Robert "Robie" Russo started the business as a small store in 1953 with his wife Joyce. His sons joined the business in the 1970s and helped him run it until he died in 2003.

The Champagnes also are second-generation owners, Jim Russo says.

"The Champagne family is three brothers from Erath. We've been friends for years and our parents were friends before us," he says. "We're both second-generation store owners and there are so many similarities, that's why I feel it's such a good fit for Abbeville."

But devoted Robie's customers want to know: What about the sausage? What about that chicken salad?

"It's a really good fit; they do business the way we do," Russo said of the Champagnes. "They're keeping all of our recipes, all our specialty items, our same team will be here. We're really excited, it's just a great fit for Abbeville, and a great fit for our customers."

Robie's is also known in Vermilion Parish for its strict adherence to COVID protocols; many KATC viewers have told us they feel safe there and are worried that might change with the change in ownership.
Russo said nothing will change there, either.

"Absolutely, we follow all the state guidelines," he said.

Regular customers probably won't see anything different, he adds.

"I don't think there will be many changes that can be seen; everything will be business as usual. The new owners want to keep everything the same. It's working really good the way it is, so they don't want to change it," he said. "All of our recipes and specialty meat items will stay the same. We're known for our sausages, especially our Italian sausage. A lot of people are asking if the new owners will keep the same recipe and the answer is yes. Everything is staying the same. Our famous chicken salad, our famous sausage, our specialty meats, all staying the same."

We asked Russo how he feels about selling the family business.

"I'm very excited to be retiring, but at the same time it's bittersweet. We've made some great friends and acquaintances, our customers, just some really good friends we will be leaving," he said. "We'll still be around, but on the other side now. We'll be a customer instead of an owner. We could not have done it without all the great people of Abbeville and all of our workers. This isn't a one-man show, it's a team effort and I just can't thank Abbeville and Robie's customers and the Robie's team of employees enough."