By Matt Bennett
While most native Louisianans grew up around crawfish, Mitch Hopkins was raised alongside them. As a 5-year-old, he watched his father, Blake, produce them in their soft-shell state, and by the time he turned 13, Hopkins was boiling mudbugs on his own. Now 27, Hopkins continues this Bayou State tradition every day from sun up well into the night during the season with his local business – Crawfish On The Geaux.
Often labeled a “food truck,” Crawfish On The Geaux, with its tin roof, rustic wooden front and screened in backside, looks more like a Cajun shack on wheels. Hopkins also, outside of private catering events, which he uses a separate trailer for, does not change locations. Instead, customers can always count on finding him daily in the Acadian-Perkins Plaza shopping center parking lot, pulling up batches of hot, boiled crawfish and mouthwatering corn and potatoes beginning at 4 p.m. on weekdays (excluding Mondays in January) and noon on weekends.
The whole process, however, begins much earlier. Out the door not long after sunrise, Hopkins drives roughly 100 miles round-trip (sometimes twice a day) for his live, Louisiana crawfish and after pick up, meticulously cleans and re-sacks all of them himself.
“There’s other things involved, like all kinds of errands you have to run, like filling up propane tanks, getting corn and potatoes, getting seasoning, paper and plastic bags to serve them in,” said Hopkins. “It’s pretty chaotic. Everyday is like a race against time to get out here on time, to get everything done and be here.”
Once actually in his trailer, to ensure all of his patrons gets fresh crawfish, Hopkins starts boiling about an hour before opening and continues doing so roughly until closing time. His boils, during the heart of the season, turn out around 500 pounds on weekdays and upwards of 1,500 on weekends. If the average Louisianan eats three to five pounds at a time, essentially Hopkins puts on a boil for 100 to 166 people daily Monday through Thursday and for 300 to 500 hungry Cajuns every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“On the weekends I get very little sleep,” joked Hopkins.
Routinely working 15-plus hour days, the do-it-yourself entrepreneur also built his Crawfish On The Geaux trailer by himself.
Now in his third year, and with each season being even better for Hopkins than the last, his hard work, family recipe and all around friendliness has certainly earned him a devout following from eager regulars.
Hopkins, however, did not always see himself in the crawfish business, but rather as a professional athlete competing in another Louisiana springtime tradition – baseball.
“I went to LSU-Eunice and I played two years and we won the National Championship,” said Hopkins. “I got drafted by The Reds in 2010 and also signed with LSU, and I got hurt and never made it back.”
After a brief period working construction, Hopkins started Crawfish On The Geaux.