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Landmark restaurant destroyed by fire

L’Observateur / October 28, 1998

DONALDSONVILLE – Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant, a landmark in dining along the River Parishes in the shadow of the Sunshine Bridge in upper St.

James Parish, was nearly razed in a fire late Sunday night.

“It was sad, it really was,” St. James Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. commentedafterward. “Those firemen worked their butts off, but once it got into thewall, it was like kindling.”The fire is still under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s office.

Lafitte’s Landing was housed in the 200-year-old Viala Plantation house, decorated with rare and costly artwork and featured the cuisine of owner Chef John Folse.

The restaurant had been open earlier in the day but closed at 3 p.m. Thefire was spotted at 10:12 p.m., and firefighters from Donaldsonville,Vacherie and Sunshine fire departments converged at the scene in an attempt to save the historic structure.

Folse has pledged to rebuild and re-launch his business, which first opened in 1978. The plantation house, which dates back to 1797, wasmoved from Donaldsonville downriver to its present site in 1964.

The restaurant derived its name from the legend that pirate Jean Lafitte, who was reportedly married the plantation owner’s daughter and lived there for a short time.

Cause of the fire remains unknown.

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