Locals celebrate return of Monceaux’s

GROVES — About 25 years has passed since Monceaux’s closed the doors of the Gulfway Drive eatery in Port Arthur.

The memories of steak finger baskets, homemade onion rings, stuffed shrimp and tarter sauce have been kept alive by word of mouth as well as various Facebook groups.

A peek inside a to-go box at Monceaux’s. Mary Meaux/The News

A peek inside a to-go box at Monceaux’s.
Mary Meaux/The News

The memory was alive and well among the crowd of Monceaux’s fans who patiently waited for hours outside a small trailer parked in front of a vacant convenience store near the corner of 39th Street and Main Avenue on Friday.

“There isn’t another place like it,” Mary Derise of Groves, who frequented the old eatery decades ago, said. “I’ll wait in line. I wouldn’t wait in line for 15 minutes for a movie but I’ll wait for this. I waited in line then (years ago) and I’ll wait in line now.”

Chloè Schroeder carries orders to waiting customers at Monceaux’s on Friday. Mary Meaux/The News

Chloè Schroeder carries orders to waiting customers at Monceaux’s on Friday.
Mary Meaux/The News

The newly opened Monceaux’s is a collaboration of Kevin Smith and business partner Bill Schroeder. Smith is the son of Helen “MoMo” McKinney who was the cook at the original Monceaux’s.

Carrie Shea of Port Neches was a regular customer years ago as well as today.

“This is worth coming to and they’re trying,” Shea said of the busy employees trying to fill orders. Her favorites are chicken friend steak baskets and crab burgers. “We went regularly, now my children are going.”

Vanessa Griffin of Port Arthur, left, and Denise Shive of Groves wait for their orders at the newly opened Monceaux’s in Groves on Friday. Mary Meaux/The News

Vanessa Griffin of Port Arthur, left, and Denise Shive of Groves wait for their orders at the newly opened Monceaux’s in Groves on Friday.
Mary Meaux/The News

A round of applause went up as an employee handed an order out a small window to a waiting customer. After the long wait the customers began calling each other by their first names.

Neither Smith nor Schroeder expected the volume of customers who have packed the business trailer this week. Employee Alishia Mouton agreed.

“We had to close down on Thursday and take a day to prep,” Alishia Mouton, employee, said. “I spent the whole day cutting steak and getting ready. We go home at night and brainstorm how to make it better. We want to make the customers happy.”

Monceaux’s co-owner Kevin Smith, center, speaks with customers Mary Derise, left, and Karl Hilton as they await their orders at the eatery on Friday. Mary Meaux/The News

Monceaux’s co-owner Kevin Smith, center, speaks with customers Mary Derise, left, and Karl Hilton as they await their orders at the eatery on Friday.
Mary Meaux/The News

Schroeder said he prefers to be honest with customers about the wait time as they work out different issues.

“I will tell someone truthfully if we are not able to make their order or if we are out,” Schroeder said. “I’d rather be correct in the order and live up to the name.”

Mouton explained that currently the best way to place an order is to call in. When the order is ready an employee will call the customer for pickup.

With less than a week under their belt, owners are already thinking of expanding as well as other tweaks to the menu. Mouton said one of her goals is to bottle the tarter sauce for sale. The sauce, she said, is a fan favorite.

Over near the trailer Denise Shive of Groves and Vanessa Griffin of Port Arthur waited for their orders.

“This is the second time I’ve been here since it opened. I grew up on it,” Shive said “I can tell it’s the original recipe.”

While Shive waited for her chicken strip basket Griffin was waiting for a stuffed shrimp basket.

“Oh, and the white boxes,” Shive said. “When they (orders came out) and I saw the white boxes I knew it was Monceaux’s.”

Toni Dyson tried to estimate the year the original eatery closed.

“I know for sure it was open July 1, 1988. They were open when I delivered my child and I had food delivered to St. Mary Hospital by Chuck Balsamo,” Dyson said. “I had a crab burger and a steak finger basket and I ordered both of those today and a stuffed shrimp basket.”

Monceaux’s, 3947 Main Ave. in Groves, is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. They can be reached at 548-5492.

E-mail: mary.meaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews

Beaumont

Department of Transportation outlines closure of U.S. 69 northbound connector to Interstate 10

Local

Analyst “hopeful” Americans will soon see relief at the pump; see where Texas stands now

Columns

CULINARY THRILL SEEKING — Put creativity on your “bucket” list and upcycle

Columns

HEALTHY LIVING — What to be concerned with that lingering cough

Local

Port Neches homes set for demolition after numerous violations, safety concerns

Local

Russell Buss hits milestone with special blood donation

Local

Carjacking Task Force targeting violent crime in Southeast Texas

Local

Port Arthur students excel at Top Teens of America event

Local

PHOTO FEATURE — Memorial sophomore excels in prose interpretation

Local

RELIGION BRIEF — God 1st Missionary Baptist celebrating pastor’s anniversary

Local

PHOTO FEATURE — Criticism Team comes up extra positive

Local

PHOTO FEATURE — Taking in the Symphony

Local

Dr. Avila Arcala left mark on Port Arthur and beyond; service planned Saturday

Local

Port Arthur ISD support center renovation full go; district leaders outline plans and timeline

Local

U.S. Navy for Port Arthur’s Hyleta Floyd is about service and family

Local

FIT BODY BOOT CAMP PUMPS UP VOLUME — Fitness goals via a welcoming environment is the mission

Local

Jury sentences Port Arthur man week after he was found guilty in Beaumont killing

Local

Port Arthur Police say arrests coming following shooting of 16-year-old local girl

Local

National Weather Service outlines heavy rain concern for Southeast Texas

Local

Willie Mae Elmore, former Port Arthur ISD trustee, nurse educator, dies at 74

High School Sports

Port Neches-Groves’ Morgan Campbell setting school record pace en route to regionals

Local

Troop Industrial earns special Veteran-owned small business certification

Local

Port Arthur and Beaumont Rotary Clubs, 100 Black Men of Greater Beaumont gathering for Sleep in Heavenly Peace impact

Local

Authorities identify 21-year-old Nederland man killed in ATV crash