INSIDE DISH: Papa Roux pops after stumbling at the start

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Inside Dish

Welcome back to IBJ’s new video feature, “Inside Dish: the Business of Running Restaurants.”

Our subject this week is the east-side Cajun hotspot Papa Roux, the bold brainchild of novice restaurateur Art Bouvier and his wife and co-owner, Colleen. Fed up with his high-pressure corporate IT gig, Art ditched the regular paycheck and benefits to open an eatery in 2007 based on the cuisine of his native New Orleans.

The first couple of years wouldn't be described as "the big easy." The Bouviers consistently lost money as they figured out the best combinations of hours, menu items and promotions. Originally hosting take-out only in a small concrete storefront, they added indoor dining and silverware as money became available. After an early review commented on the drab atmosphere, they enlisted customers to start doodling on the walls.

At first, the Bouviers were happy with just a few hundred dollars in the till each day. In the video below, Art describes how Mardi Gras in 2008 and 2009 brought scads of customers who turned into regulars. Business grew by leaps and bounds, and then exploded when the New Orleans Saints marched to the 2010 Super Bowl. Now lunches bring between $1,000 and $1,500 per day, and dinner on Fridays (the only night it's offered) can spike the day's take to $3,000. After nearly three years, the Bouviers have finally passed the break-even point.

Operating with a bare-bones mentality, the Bouviers have become accustomed to creating no-cost marketing ploys, low-budget decor and do-it-yourself promotions. In the video below, Art shows off the results.

More Dish: Notes from the back of the napkin

Papa Roux
Concept: High turnover lunch spot specializing in mainstream Cajun cuisine, such as po’ boy sandwiches and creole stews over white rice.
Location: 8950 E. 10th St. (Post Road and 10th Street)
Phone: 317-603-9861
Web site: www.paparouxindy.com
Founded: July 2007
Owner(s): Art and Colleen Bouvier
Start-up costs: $25,000
Annual sales: Total sales in 2009: approx. $110,000; projected sales for 2010: $300,000 based on increase of business due to improved marketing and promotions, as well as higher visibility during 2010 Mardi Gras and New Orleans Saints’ NFL championship run.
Daily sales: $1,000 to $1,500, and $2,500 to $3,000 on Fridays with dinner.
Seats: 45 inside, 10 outside
Employees: 4 (not including owners)
Good to know: Papa Roux’s offers dinner on Fridays, and otherwise is a lunch destination open between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.


  • You have issues allright
    You both have serious mental issues and should be committed before you harm anybody..IMO
  • You have issues allright
    You both have serious mental issues and should be committed before you harm anybody..IMO
  • Love Papa Roux!!!!!!!!!!!
    The only thing I can find to be unhappy about concerning Papa Roux's is that is is not right in my neighborbood! My son introduced me to the place this spring, and I have been coming back as often as I am able- I live and work in Kokomo, so it's only about 2-3 times a month. Believe me, it is the absolute best place I have ever eaten- the food is fantastic and the owners and their employees are fantastic. it doesn't get any better than this! The voodoux sauce is to die for!
  • Hey There
    Just sticking our head to say hey to Art and Colleen. Rock on! (your friends in the village)
  • Peace, Love and Po'Boys
    Though I'm not an original poster, I wanted to add my thoughts about Papa Roux. The first time we went there, my husband was a little nervous because he wasn't sure he'd like Cajun food. When we walked in and told the employee it was our first time there, he was so helpful and nice. He made us feel completely welcomed and at home, and took time to help us figure out what to order. Weâ??ve been hooked ever since that day! The only disappointment I have is that I didnâ??t discover Papa Roux sooner than this year. If I would have known just how good their Poâ??Boys were, we would have been regulars from the start.

    As far as the kids running around the restaurant, I love it. It makes it feel like a true family restaurant. The last time we were there, as we were leaving Papaâ??s son was outside and he called out goodbye as we were walking out. It was too cute.

    As far as I'm concerned, I have officially converted from a Yats fan to a Papa Roux fan. Itâ??s not to say I wouldnâ??t eat Yats, but itâ??s interesting that since having Papa Roux, I havenâ??t been back there. I am just addicted to those Poâ??Boys! No matter if youâ??re a Yats fan or a Papa Roux fan, we need to support the Cajun culture in general after this oil spill, and Iâ??m happy to do that by stuffing my face with seafood from the gulf.

    I just want to add another note that I think itâ??s wonderful that we have this sort of establishment on the east side. Itâ??s places like Papa Roux that make me love being an eastsider.
  • My favorite place
    I wasn't an original poster, either. My two oldest kids have been in Scouts briefly with the two oldest Bouvier kids, so that's how we know them. They're well-behaved, smart, talented kids and most certainly don't run around the restaurant on the rare times they're there. Mama invited me to try them out when they first opened, but I sadly didn't take her up on it until last year. Now we like to go there whenever we can. They picked the perfect name, because it's really like family there. I don't go expecting an atmosphere like Ruth's Chris. But I *know* that both Papa and Mama will have been experimenting in the kitchen, as true Cajuns do. And there will be surprises, as well as the previous hits.

    One thing I love: I can't eat bread or rice, and I still get plenty to eat there! Papa does Naked Po Boys for me (and will for anyone needing gluten-free) and riceless sides! I've found that mixing the etoufee and cole slaw, and dumping that on my po boy is an amazing combination.

    For me, it's a constant battle not to eat every single lunch there, because Papa's fun and funny posts on Facebook feed my appetite to go there! The Bouviers really connect with their customers in a way that is missing from many places. If you're a customer at Sam's Gyros, you'll get an inkling of what I mean.
  • East Side
    While the eastside may be a bit downtrodden, a bit of a red-headed step-child around Indy, rest assured, we all stick together. We recognize, appreciate, and support a great thing when we get it. Papa Roux has great food and it's unlike anything you can find around here. My family has been going there since just after it opened, and are proud supporters of a great eastside establishment.
  • Terrece
    Terrece, Sorry you didn`t enjoy your visit to PaPa Roux. Everyone has their own tastes and opinions.
    I have been a faithful follower and patron of PaPa Roux since their beginning. I can honestly say that I have NEVER had anything from their menu that I didn`t like. Everything is fresh and yummy. Dine in...who else would dare give you free iced tea and unlimited sides ?? No other restaurant that I know of. Art and Colleen and all the Roux bunch (kids included) are very friendly and after a couple of visits, will learn your name and treat you like family. Too crowded inside at lunch time, sit outside and enjoy your meal. If it is crowded, take time to read some of the graffiti on the walls and enjoy, but the wait is short and I promise you won`t be disappointed when your food is brought to you. This isn`t a fastfood chain, this is good down home cajun cookin`.
    This is a family run, family oriented business. Art and Colleen...we got your back !!
  • Can't be beat for good food and fun
    I didn't post the first time around on this article, because I found Papa Roux just a few months ago, sort of by accident. But I have eaten there as often as possible ever since! It's pretty unusual for me to go 20 miles for lunch - but it happens now that I found Papa Roux! Papa would never need to write his own supporting reviews - the welcoming employees, the amazing food and comfortable down-home atmosphere of his restaurant speak for itself! I will be a frequent diner, as often as I can!!
  • where family means family
    While others may call themselves a family restaurant Papa Roux actually is a family restaurant. I for one enjoy seeing the family work and play together. All this and great Cajun food. My wife and I have been weekly customers for over a year now. Their food is great and their customer relations could not be any better.
  • Eastside eatery
    I love that the eastside has more and more non-chain hole-in-the-wall restaurants. The eastside needs a niche and I think Papa Roux's fits it perfectly. The food is yummy and clients are eclectic.
  • Puh-leeeeeez
    My dad owns and operates a website that provides the public with information on things to do in Indianapolis. He discovered Papa Roux a little over a year ago, and recommended it to me as one of the best places to eat in Indy.

    My boyfriend and I get take-out from Papa now every week. We love the atmosphere, the staff, and of course the food. The etouffee over rice topped with crab cakes is truly one of the best things I've ever eaten in my life.

    Honestly I laughed at the ridiculous implication that Art would ever NEED to masquerade as his own audience. People who say hurtful and malicious things publicly often have an agenda. I'm sure this instance is no exception.

    Rock on Papa Roux!
  • Great Cajun Cusine!
    Papa Roux is simply the "BEST" cajun food in town hands down! Once you go there once you are hooked and planing the next time your gonna come back. Gotta love Papa Roux!
  • Papa Roux - Terrece
    Terrece, I think that your judgment of this fine restaurant establishment is way over looked. For starters, this is a family owned place, Papa never intended nor accomplished this to be a "Trashy" look. Secondly, This is a great place to get together with family and friends to go and have a good time. I know people have there opinions, but going out of your way to blog about the whole thing just seems a little ridiculous.I love The Roux, and will always be a loyal customer. Please understand that this place is a warm and welcoming place, and nothing less. The wonderful and great staff is just a perk, and thats something you will never find anywhere else, let alone Yats.
  • hmmmmm....
    Maybe Terrece owns stock in Yats. Just sayin'. Or he likes to go around bashing other businesses on the IBJ articles just for fun. But that would just be stupid. And why would it do anyone any good to post comments on their own article? Or ask people they know personally to do it for them? When all they have to do is make good food and serve it up darn right!! Hey, just like they be doin' at the Papa Roux! 'ats right! Disclaimer: the character in this comment only resembles someone who personally knows papa roux. especialy if your name is Terrece and you like yats better 'en da Roux. But those of us with more refined palates, reconize that the Roux food tastes different than the Yats food cuz it is different. They both unique. An they both gooood and cajun. Darn right!
  • Papa Roux rocks
    Terrece maybe works for Yats? Hmmm. Makes you wonder. I live on the East side and love Papa Roux. It is refreshing to see someone making it by doing it right. And is ulta-enjoyable to be able to go to a quality restaurant that is locally owned and not a chain. I follow PR on FB and the comments are all genuine - because he is good at what he does!
  • Personal is what it's about.
    I love the food at Papa Roux, and being able to converse with the owner(s) is incredible! Isn't that what people always try and do at high-end establishments? "I know the owner, could you have him come out so I can say hi?" At Papa's, you don't have to ask. Everyone is very friendly, and did I mention that the food is GREAT! They care about more than just their small portion of the world, too. You can see that in how they source food (read: shrimp). They operate their business transparently, which is how it should be.
  • Papa Roux is awesome!
    I unfortunately cannot visit Papa Roux as often as I would like since I am a school teacher and cannot get there for lunch during the week. I do try to go at least once a month and my husband goes at least once a week. I have to say that I love the atmosphere and the food even more. I have enjoyed everything that I have tried and usually leave there stuffed beyond belief because it is so good! I love that I feel there is a personal connection there because it's a true FAMILY restaurant. And I admire their commitment to other family restaurants and businesses and their commitment to FRESH ingredients!
  • Papa Roux
    I was a Yats fan until I ate at Papa Roux the first time. I like the fact that at the Roux, you are greeted by name as soon as you hit the door. I like that Art makes the effort to stop by the tables (business permitting) and chat with all of his diners. I like the fact that sometimes as you approach the door, you may be greeted by one of the smaller Rouxlets. I like the fact that sometimes Chad wants to hug the patrons. Is that an option at Yats or Zydeco's? Art on the walls? No, cherie...art is in the food, the atmosphere, the fellowship. Maybe it takes a certain kind of soul to GET the vibe at Papa Roux, and maybe you just don't have that. I have intorduced more folks to the Roux than I have any other joint...ever. By all means, you keep eating at the other Cajun joints...it leaves more of the nomnoms for those of us who appreciate it.
    And no, I am not now, nor have I ever been an employee there. Just one of the faithful sheep under the delicious spell of Papa Roux.
  • Hole In The Wall member approved
    As a founding member of the "Hole In The Wall" lunch group, I whole-heartedly recommend and back Papa Roux as a must-go destination to eat.

    The food is all Cajun with a Bouvier twist. The Po'Boys are are delicious with the cole slaw and the etouffee is awesome.

    Equally as important as the food is the atmosphere of Papa Roux. The building and interior are classic New Orleans with the customer influence (grafitti), the unlimited sides with dine-ins, and our ability to customize the dishes. Art has truly brought a piece of New Orleans to the east side of Indy.

    What I and my wife love about Papa Roux is that they involve the local community in their food and their lives. We feel a real connection with Art, Colleen, their family, and staff. Is it upscale Cajun like the Commander's Palace in New Orleans? No, but that's not what Papa is going for. Papa Roux is perfect the way it is.
  • Da Roux is for Real
    I work on the East side of Indianapolis and have been a more than happy patron of Papa's now for 2 years and counting....and the other 15 people that work with me love it just as much. From the knockout Cajun Voodoux sauce and awesome cole slaw on every Po-Boy, to the tasty Cajun stews, Cajun Chilis, Jambalaya, creole....there's nothing they serve that isn't fresh (probably made that morning or the night before) and extremely tasty. With unlimited sides and free Iced Tea when you dine in, this is absolutely the best deal for lunch you'll find. I sometimes drive half an hour on Saturdays from Franklin to get a Po-Boy or a Cajun dish because my mouth starts watering and I can't wait til the next week to get my fix. IO won't even compare it to any other "Cajun" restaurants. To me, there is no competition. And I'm picky.
  • Real Nawlins Cuisine
    Yo, IBJ! Papa Roux has been dishin' out the good Cajun groceries to the East side for over two years now. As a Loyola New Orleans graduate I can attest that what these folks serve up is the real deal! Their muffaletta po' boy is on the same level of tastiness as a Central Grocery [Decatur Street, N.O].They are still getting shrimp and Gulf blue crab from the Gulf, supporting Louisiana are fishermen whose livelihood is in jeopardy from the British Polluters oil spill. The gumbo is divine and the music is fine! Laissez le bon temps roulez!
  • Whatever, Terence
    I'm a big fan of Papa Roux and thankful that there are local joints like them to go to for lunch. If not for them and other local eats on the east side, I would be stuck having Subway and Lean Cuisine everyday.
  • Good authentic cajun fare!!
    I lived in Baton Rouge during college and was fortunate (or unfortunate if my weight is referenced) to fall in love with good home-cooked cajun food! I am a huge fan of both Papa's and another local joint and I have to say that Papa's has the BEST po'boys I've ever had!! If anyone has been to Chimes (just outside the LSU gate), they will appreciate the fact that I rate Papa's food at or above both Chimes and the places around them. I lived on crawfish, crab and shrimp and have longed for something comparable here in Indy. I now have a couple of places to satisfy that craving and Papa's leads the way!!!!
  • We drive from Greenwood
    We love less than a mile away from the Greenwood Yats, but still drive up to 10th and Post almost every Saturday after the kids little league games. We love all of the different po-boys and the chicken creole. Several co-workers and I drive over for lunch from downtown, love the jambalaya!

    Yats isn't nearly as fresh or good, darn sure doesn't have unlimited sides. Seems more like a yuppy/cajun place, Papa's is much better, even with the long drive.
  • Give me a break!
    I got no indication that previous comments came from anyone but happy diners! PApa makes every effort to be accomodating (even to my gluten/dairy intollerant son) and gracious! So refreshing!
  • Hello, Terrence.
    Terrence, this is Papa Roux. Art Bouvier, actually. The restaurateur, not the restaurant.

    I simply wish to set the record straight on a few things, since you seem to have made some unfounded assumptions.

    First: this is my first post to an IBJ article, ever. I do not post comments to my own articles. I have no need to do so. Papa Roux has a faithful following of hundreds of customers who know us quite personally, all as a result of the type of establishment we run. It's personal. I'm sorry if you didn't catch that. A little homework would have showed you that fact. Catch us on Facebook sometime. It's literally impossible for "The owners" to fake the level of personal interaction we have there.

    Second: My son was absolutely at Papa Roux on Friday. He's 13, and works their at times, bussing tables or running drinks. He is fully trained on our sanitation procedures. Again, a little homework would have helped here. I'm quite a stickler on sanitation. Board of Health records will show you this, as will a conversation with any employee (it's a sore point with them at times, as I show little mercy) and most customers (those that know us on a personal level do know this fact about me).

    At times you'll see my other children there as well. It's a FAMILY restaurant. My wife and I run it, and we have four children. Sometimes they are with us. We try to make it the exception rather than the rule, but hey, things happen. I'm sorry if it frightened you. Rest assured we have very strict controls over the establishment, over them, AND over your food. If the presence of children causes you to make wild assumptions about the cleanliness of a restaurant, I am sorry. Not sorry about the presence of the children, but sorry that it causes you to make wild assumptions. Again, rest assured that the Board of Health has got your back. You're safe. AND... if you worry further that maybe that's not good enough, I have a question for you: where DO you eat? Believe me, brother, I can tell you some stories you would not believe. I mean FAR more unbelievable than "Papa Roux's customers know him personally."

    Yat's is your preference? Fine by us, dude. Everybody's got an opinion, right? Enjoy wherever you shop, and don't shop where you don't enjoy is all I'm saying. Posting nasty comments about a place just because you don't prefer it, well... it's just not becoming.

    Lastly, about the graffiti on the walls. It's personal. It's down home. It's very "dive", and the entire place is very New Orleans. I grew up there. I kinda know how this works.

    Again, I'm sorry it didn't work out for you.

    I've asked the authors of the 9 previous comments to get on here and defend their reputations. When and if they do, I assure you it's them, and not me.

    Thank you!

    Art Bouvier
    Papa Roux
    Call me sometime if you want to talk.
  • the best local cajun
    despite what terrace jenkins might think, I do not believe the comment in question was posted by the owners, and also, paparoux is very good food and the family (including the kids) are some of the nicest restaurant owners I've ever met. Go to paparoux.
  • we drive 1 hour to eat at Papa's
    My husband and I drive from Martinsville about every other week to eat at the Roux. We Love the atmosphere and the food is GREAT! I love family owned businesses and I will always support them. I recommend Papa's to everyone that I know that loves Po Boys!!! You won't find a better Po Boy in Indiana..Not even at Yatz...no Po Boys there...
  • not a relative
    About a year ago, a neighbor brought me to Papa Roux for dinner. I have been hooked ever since. Not only is the food amazing but the owners are a wonderful addition to the eastside community. Papa Roux was wonderful enough to host my birthday party and host a fundraiser for homeless veterans. Papa is very involved in our community. The combination of his wonderful menu (po boys and chicken chili are my favorites)and his character make me a loyal customer for life.
  • Don't be that way
    Just because you don't have the same opinion as the people who liked Papa, don't say the comments were written by the staff. Opinions are just that, opinions. If you didn't like Papa, fine. It was good you tried it and, if it is not your thing, more power to you. Go to Yats and eat what makes you happy. And, no, I am not a member of the staff.
  • Don't be that way
    Just because you don't have the same opinion as the people who liked Papa, don't say the comments were written by the staff. Opinions are just that, opinions. If you didn't like Papa, fine. It was good you tried it and, if it is not your thing, more power to you. Go to Yats and eat what makes you happy. And, no, I am not a member of the staff.
  • not so good
    seems to me that the previous messages came from the owners themselves, its like they know to much to be the average joe patron...food ok Yats is better in my option, you pay for what you get, coleslaw was runny, bread pudding was actually very good, wall "art" if you will was lame makes it look trashy and un kept, the owners kids running around the kitchen, makes you wonder how sanitary everything is...just a thought!
    • Scope
      My wife and I were having "issues" that required many people come to our house to help with a lot of work. Most of those helping were at the house all day. Papa Roux's generously and happily provided a lunch tray for all who participated as their way of helping with this project. I never knew before that time that you did not need cheese for a sandwich. Their po' boys are great! I am hungry thinking about them now. Maybe I can break away from what I am doing tomorrow and make it to Papa Roux.
    • Tie Dye Grill
      While I applaud entreprenurial efforts, such as Papa Roux and the Tie Dye Grill, the differences between them are huge. Papa Roux's Art, his wife and his "employee / family" are welcoming, helpful and want everyone to have a good time, I did not feel the same sort of love at the Tye Dye. I heard lots of "I want to go home," "I'm tired" and "let's close early." The food while okay, was just food and overpriced at that. They did not even know that a Chicago Hot Dog is served on a steamed bun. The chef said, "Oh, you can steam (hotdog) buns?" :O)
    • Great food!
      Wonderful food and a welcoming, caring staff. Thanks Art and Colleen, your place is a home run!
    • Can't keep from going back
      I've been eating Papa's cajun ever since they opened. Can't get enough of it. There's simply nothing else comparable in Indy. If you haven't been there, drop what you're doing and head over for lunch.
    • Tie Dye Grill
      The Tie Dye Grill is way too pricy for the food received. Went once, won't go back. Don't let the small interior fool you for them being "busy".
      • Great Family Owned Business
        Great article, without one slam on the eastside! Thanks!!! :) Don't forget the Tie Dye Grill too!!
        • Mom and Pop at its best!
          Papa Roux has become a Friday night tradition for our family...the fresh seafood, crabcakes, po boys, creole...I've never had a dish here I didn't love. Nothing fancy, just good honest food served by good honest folks that go out of their way to make you feel welcome the minute you step through the door. Papa posts on Facebook about every day letting fans know what Mama is cooking up in the kitchen, and often has special deals for his Facebook friends.
        • Papa Roux Po' Boys will make your mouth and tummy happy...
          Seriously, if you've never had a Papa Roux Po' Boy... you don't know what you are missing.

          Of course, my personal favorite is the "Sausage Po' Boy"... however you need to tell Art to make it for you "Fury Style" (which means to add red beans on top of the coleslaw). Yes, it's messy, however eaten "open faced" style, it's a taste that you just won't believe! Trust me... it's GOOD!!!!

          BTW.. I concur with the previous poster on having more than one dinner day. Keep your fingers crossed... and maybe Papa Art will make it happen. And don't forget... "GIVE 'ER THE BEANS!!!!". :D
        • Good good good!
          Good food - Good people. Just wish they were open more for dinner. Chicken Po Boy! Yummm!

        Post a comment to this story

        We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
        You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
        Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
        No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
        We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

        Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

        Sponsored by

        facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

        Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
        Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
        Subscribe to IBJ
        1. This is still my favorite Mexican restaurant in town. What I do love about the new version is it is much quieter than the most recent version. TV's were off, the music wasn't too loud, and the wait staff were not hyperactive like they had been the past few times I had been there. I just wish they would bring back the MOLE for the enchiladas!

        2. Not a bad paper. There is a need for local community news and city government issues. Don't really need the owner's constant national political rants. We all know where they stand by now.

        3. What nice people. Menard should've known better than to team up with the guy who robbed and drove Conseco to ashes. I'm surprised Timothy Durham isn't involved in this.

        4. Hello, I am Maris Peters, currently living in Texas city, USA. I am a widow at the moment with three kids and i was stuck in a financial situation in August 2014 and i needed to refinance and pay my bills. I tried seeking loans from various loan Companies both private and corporate but never with success, and most banks declined my credit. But as God would have it, I was introduced to a Man of God a private loan lender who gave me a loan of $65,000USD and today am a business owner and my kids are doing well at the moment, if you must contact any firm or company with reference to securing a loan without collateral , no credit check, no co signer with just 2% interest rate and better repayment plans and schedule, please contact Mr William David. He doesn’t know that am doing this but am so happy now and i decided to let people know more about him and also i want God to bless him more.You can contact him through his email: Davidloanfirm@yahoo.com

        5. It is beyond me how anyone can think this was a "bad deal" for the state! If they could take the money back then, yes, but they can't! Protections were built in the agreement. Now, if they roll the roads up and take them away, I will agree that it was a bad deal. Otherwise, the only way to have paid for the infrastructure that was badly needed was for the state to issue bonds....that is a four letter synonym for debt folks!!