A Studebaker, Johnny Carson and Central Louisiana Pies


The title to this blog post sounds like the answer the turban-headed Carnac the Magnificent would give in one of his acts on The Tonight Show.

But they all have something to do with Lea’s Lunchroom along Louisiana’s Highway 1 in LeCompte.  Opened in 1928 in, Lea’s in tiny Lecompte was on the main route between Shreveport in the northwest Louisiana and Baton Rouge until Interstate 49 was completed in the early 1990s. During its heyday, Lea’s was a must stop for travelers on their way to the state capitol or to an LSU football game so on an given day there would likely be at least a couple of Studebakers in the parking lot.

Jane's camera 031  Jane's camera 032

But just as the Studebaker is now nothing more than a vintage motif, places such as Lea’s have been replaced with speedier meal options making it look like a time capsule when you walk in the door.

It’s really nostalgia and the pies that keep people venturing off the interstate and stopping in as we did recently. Coconut cream, chocolate apple, peach, banana, cherry, towering lemon meringue, best-selling pecan and more in season. There’s a plate lunch special every day and ham sandwich options, but that food is really not that special. The place is known for serving only ham sandwiches, no hamburgers as founder Lea Johnson thought them to be inferior food. (His grandson does serve hamburgers is a spinoff Lea’s in Monroe, La, which some people refer to “rollover burgers” because Lea would roll over in his grave if he knew).

Waiting area inside Lea's -- early 1960s furniture
Waiting area inside Lea’s — early 1960s furniture

Lea’s has fans all over the country, so many that Johnson made it onto the Johnny Carson show on Thanksgiving Day 1989. He made such an impression that Carson kept him on for 11 minutes, one of the longest interviews with a non celebrity that Carson ever did.

You can watch it on the Lea’s Lunchroom website. Just click on the Media tab.