Photo caption: Percy (King) Creuzot, III in offices of Frenchy’s Sausage Company | Photo credit: LV Davis of Pics by LV.
Long before Percy (Frenchy) Creuzot, Jr. brought his Southern Louisiana-style chicken to Houston and launched one of the city’s most successful African American family-owned restaurant franchises, his son, Percy (King) Creuzot III, remembers his father as the consummate businessman.
“He was just a very confident and persuasive guy and had no problem getting out there and telling the world that he had a good product and that everybody needed it,” said King. “My father was very strong in how he approached someone to sell, he approached with confidence and knew how to look you in the eye and make the sale.”
His innate salesmanship would pave the way for a career in the insurance business and open the door to a position as a traveling salesman for Herff Jones Jewelry, an opportunity that led him to later relocate his family from New Orleans’ Ninth Ward to Houston.
“The company sold class rings and graduation gowns and they needed a black salesman for this region, so he moved to Houston and traveled throughout Texas and serviced mostly black high schools – that was his job,” said King.
The impact of segregation would eliminate the company’s need for a black salesman to handle accounts with Black schools.
“Segregation was coming to an end in the late 60s and they didn’t need a black salesman to call on black schools because those barriers had really dropped,” said King.
His father would take a job with the Texas Employment Commission, but his desire to bring the foods and flavors of New Orleans to Houston, would lead him to open a business venture on the side, a sno-cone shop, on the corner of McGowan and Dowling.
In New Orleans sno-cones were popular sellers and differed from the coarser sno-cones sold in Texas, something Creuzot wanted Houstonians to experience.
“In New Orleans our sno-cones were very fluffy just like snow whereas here they were ground a little coarser,” said King.
Though his first venture would be short-lived, Creuzot’s entrepreneurial spirit and innate persistence would lead him to open the doors to Frenchy’s Poboys on July 3, 1969.
With the support of his wife, Sallie, along with his niece, Novelle, who ran the business by day, the business pioneer would begin downthe path that would lead to one of the most successful African-American family-owned restaurants in the Houston area.
With his destiny still unfolding and customers lining up to purchase chicken at a neighboring Church’s Chicken restaurant, Creuzot remained focused on introducing Houstonians to the New Orleans poboy until a friend suggested he try his hand at selling chicken.
“He told him, you are going to starve trying to introduce people to poboys, you need to start selling chicken,” King said. “He then went and bought the chicken and made my daddy fry it.”
The rest they say is Frenchy’s history.
Soon the Creole-seasoned chicken and Southern Louisiana-style red beans and rice, jambalaya, greens and dirty rice dishes Creuzot grew up on had customers flocking to the restaurant at 3919 Scott, where the original restaurant remains today.
“If it had not have been for Jesse Hearns, my daddy would not have been in the chicken business. I think he could have had a successful restaurant, but not near what has happened with the chicken,” said King.
With the popularity of Frenchy’s soaring in the community, Creuzot soon changed the name of his restaurant to Frenchy’s Chicken.
But Creuzot’s keen business sense would lead him to expand his reach into the food processing industry with the creation of Frenchy’s Sausage Company to sell his Creole sausages and links wholesale.
While working in Chicago at Ford Motor Company, his son King would soon receive a call from his father that would set him on a new path.
“I remember him telling me, ‘I am sitting on a can of dynamite that is about to explode’. He was talking about Frenchy’s Sausage Company,” said his son King.
With a desire to learn even more, King would become involved with and later join the board of the Southwest Meat Association, an organization that promoted industry standards and offered various seminars to educate member businesses in the meat processing industry.
“I continued to take courses and was able to pick up and learn this business, that is how I did it, as well as just being submerged into it and having to figure it out as I went along,” King said.
A wide selection of the company’s products, including its boudin, Auntie’s (rice) Dressing, Creole hot sausage, smoked sausage and Mexican chorizo are now sold in local H-E-B, Seller Bros., Food Town, Foodarama and Fiesta stores.
In the late 80s, Creuzot and his son opened a franchising arm of the company and expanded the Frenchy’s Chicken brand to numerous locations throughout the Houston area. But the oil bust in Houston would have a major impact on local businesses, forcing Creuzot to downsize to his original location on Scott St.
“Through all of that I always held my head up high, and so did he. I thought, well we just have to start over very simple and get back to basics and keep doing what we had always done. [Continued]