After more than 40 years of wholesome, healthy and nutritious business, the Oil Center Health Food Store and Whole Wheatery Eatery will be closing at the end of June. An innovator in health-conscious dining in Lafayette, selling all natural vitamins, organic foods, plate lunches and the Lafayette famous Bible sandwich, the shop and restaurant had struggled of late with declining lunch sales, while rent for their store front at 927 Harding St. continued to rise.
According to Jean Goodman, who owns Whole Wheatery with her two daughters, the writing was on the wall when Park Place Surgical Hospital moved south to a new location on Ambassador Caffery Parkway. The move left vacant office at Park Place’s unsold former building on Wilson Street around the corner from Whole Wheatery, and vacant tables around the lunch counter of Goodman’s shop.
“Our little nook of the Oil Center is on its way out,” Goodman says. “This end of town is being cannibalized by the other side of town.”
Despite revitalization efforts like the Oil Center After Hours free concert series, Goodman claims little can be or has been done to stimulate a sagging economy in the historically bustling center of Lafayette’s petro-chemical offices. She cites rapid proliferation of national chain stores like Whole Foods, growth southward toward Broussard and Youngsville, and a dip in the economy for an “exodus of businesses” in the area.
“It’s sign after sign of ‘for rent’, ‘for rent’, ‘for rent’,” Goodman says.
Goodman and her daughters, Jamie and Heather, have owned the business for the past six years, taking over from the original owners. Jamie Goodman, 31, has worked at the shop since age 19.
Since deciding to close, Goodman says she has attempted to sell the business whole with no success. Potential buyers have been scared off by declining foot traffic, claiming Whole Wheatery is located in a "depressed area," she says.
The Goodmans do not plan to relocate or open a new restaurant venture. They are currently still looking for a buyer.