Turmoil brewing in Abita Springs over grocery building sale to beer-maker

(Photo Credit: WWL-TV)

ABITA SPRINGS, La. (WWL-TV) –  For the past eight years, the aisles of Artigue’s Abita Grocery have offered household products, produce and ready-made meals not available for miles outside of the Town of Abita Springs.

But the family that’s poured its heart and soul into the store says that convenience could be coming to an abrupt and upsetting end soon because the building is under contract to be sold.

“So many people are coming and telling us how much they appreciate us and they’re sticking up for us so, that’s all we can ask for,” said Allie Artigue.

The Artigue family, who leases the building on Highway 59 in the center of town, says they learned about the sale on New Year’s Day, through a Facebook post made by the buyer, Scott Cardella.

He was sharing his excitement about making his dream, Long Bridge Brewery, reality, but found many people didn’t share that excitement.  Cardella says the reaction was stunning despite having no opposition when appearing at Planning and Zoning meetings in October and December.  The appearances were more of a formality, as the area is already zoned as historic commercial, where a bar currently operates and Artigue’s maintained a liquor license.  Cardella’s plan is to use the building to create beer for sale in groceries and restaurants, and for now, to only invite the public in for one-day-a-week tours and tastings.

“I have full intentions to come in as a new small business owner and uphold the small town values of Abita and be a good contributor to the town,” said Cardella, “And I was kind of shocked that I haven’t even gotten to introduce myself and explain my plan.”

He was equally surprised to learn the family claimed to not know about the transaction, especially since it had been for sale since August 2015, with the listing noting the grocery would be re-locating, though the Artigue’s dispute that notation.

“I don’t know my dad’s reasons behind not purchasing, personal on him, but as far as we know we’ve been loyal tenants, so it’s just kind of a shock,” said Artigue.

The varying opinions being shared on social media have left the town in the midst of a growing turmoil, with many people calling on the town to get involved. But leaders say there’s simply nothing they can do.

“There’s laws that do not allow us to stop real estate transfers because some people don’t want it,” said Mayor Greg Lemons, “Agreed, it’d be nice to have a grocery store in Abita.  We’ve had one for a long long time. The problem is we just can’t do anything about it legally.”

Both the family, and Cardella, are hoping for a compromise that leaves them both able to call Abita Springs home.

The owner of the building did not return calls for comment.

Supporters of the grocery are planning to take their argument to the town’s regularly scheduled meeting next Tuesday.

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