Commercial Progress Report

Boomin' On the Blvd.

by Lisa Hanchey

Shopping center boasts diverse mix of new, old tenants.By Lisa Hanchey

It's been a banner year for On the Boulevard, the retail/restaurant/business mecca prominently located at Johnston Street and Arnould Boulevard. Owned by Edward "Brother" Abdalla, this well-maintained strip mall, anchored by Brother's on the Boulevard, has experienced an explosion in business not seen since the oil boom days of the late '70s-early '80s.

Of the six new added spaces, five are already filled. Just inked is Naked Pizza, a New Orleans-based pizza chain serving healthy take-out and delivery pies. This fast-growing franchise features all-natural pizzas enhanced with pre- and pro-biotics, multi-grain products and more protein. Compared to regular pizza, Naked Pizza's pies have fewer calories, less fat and better taste. Naked Pizza's On the Boulevard location is planning a soft opening on Feb. 25.

Also new to the Boulevard is Casey & Casey Auto Title Express. The largest auto title company in Louisiana, Casey & Casey has been around since 1957. Casey & Casey is the first privately owned electronic public license tag agency in Louisiana and the first online with the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Other recent tenants include Victoria Nails, Quest Diagnostics, Smoothie Factory (locally owned by triathlete Russell Bex), The IceGators and Wildcatters' offices and Play N Trade. Moving into the space formerly occupied by a physical therapy group is Letterle Chiropractic Clinic. Popular restaurant Jason's Deli just renewed its lease through 2020.

Why the sudden surge in business on the Boulevard? Location, location, location. "We are located between the Grand Theater and the Camellia Boulevard bridge, which seems to be a hot-hot part of Johnston Street," says Abdalla.
Most important, customers are drawn to the covered outdoor shopping area and wide promenade. Christmas lights are left up year-round to give the shopping area a festive look. "Customers like being able to walk down the sidewalk and hearing the music while they shop," Abdalla says.

Close proximity to the UL Lafayette, Lafayette High School and local hospitals is another bonus for consumers. Students frequent Jason's Deli for its diverse menu and quick cafeteria-style service. Area hospitals and law firms use Jason's delivery option on a regular basis. "They serve such a variety of food, and are open seven days a week," Abdalla observes. "It's well-priced, and the quality of the food is good."

And, having Hershey's Ice Cream with Great American Cookies on site provides a great snack break for local patrons. "His [owner Tye Hebert] sales have increased dramatically because he is one of the only ones in the country who has Hershey's Ice Cream, which is a premium ice cream, along with the Great American Cookies, which used to be only located in Acadiana Mall," Abdalla says.

This year, anchor tenant Brother's On the Boulevard is celebrating its 35th year. Since 1976, Brother's has been a leader in fashion clothing for men and women. After consolidating with its location at Acadiana Mall, the Boulevard store expanded to almost 10,000 square feet. Abdalla plans to celebrate the anniversary with a big bash in November. "It's the only place that sells clothing, shoes accessories and gifts for women and men," Abdalla says. "We have had grandparents to grandchildren who shop here. Couples can come in and both shop.

Other long-term tenants include Greenwood Shoes, Style America by Regis Corporation, Wild Birds Unlimited, owned by Jack and Rose Must, and Caroline & Company, owned by Charlotte Cryer. "She's (Cryer) got almost 1,500 square feet and was recently named best gift store," Abdalla embellishes. "She started in a small space and expanded into three spaces, and does an unbelievable business. She's a very smart, savvy, good businesswoman and has a very loyal following."

Forward-thinking fashionistas enjoy shopping at The Clothing Loft, a consignment shop carrying high-end and couture clothing for women and boutique clothing for children.

Currently, On the Boulevard has four spaces available ranging from 1,709 square feet to 3,834 square feet. Two potential tenants are already eyeing this prime property. The center's total square footage is 64,666.

"We're lucky," Abdalla says. "We're competitively priced, and we're centrally located. Johnston Street is still probably the most economic street there is."