Local business hopes third time is a charm

Published 3:45 pm Thursday, November 2, 2017

By Eric Williams

The Orange Leader


Oscar Leblanc Sr., owner of Blue Birds Fish camp, says he purchased the abandoned property back in 2014 with his own hard saved up money.

“I wanted to make it a enjoyable place for the community and boaters,” Leblanc said.

The property was run down and had not been used in years, so Leblanc had to bring the property up to code and do major renovations to the property. The facility now has new bathrooms and places for families to get together for social events.

The business first opened back in 2015 and it was a 100 percent success for Leblanc. The original Bluebirds was just a basic supply store to get fishing materials and a cold drinks. What’s a drink without a hot hamburger to go along with a full day of fishing, so Leblanc felt it would be of benefit to make it a restaurant along with just a supply store.

The store first came in trouble around March 2016 when the floodgates of Toledo Bend Dam was opened and caused the entire surrounding river to peek. The entire business went under water from the flood and LeBlanc had to use his own life savings to repair the building.

“I was determined to please my customers cause the business was doing so well within it’s first year of being open,” Leblanc said. “I had so much support from the community on the good job I was doing, that Modica Brothers in Orange spent $1,000 in advertising for my business.”

“I was able to overcome the flood and get my business back open until disaster number two approached me, in the middle of the night around last November my business caught on fire,” Leblanc continued. “We received fire, smoke, and water damage but being a hard business man I had the business repaired again with my hard earned money to get it back opened.  After the fire I noticed we saw a dramatic increase in the business from our customers. Every day for lunch we had a out standing amount of customers and call in orders to go.”

Now with the recent floods from Tropical Storm Harvey, the business is now in a desperate need of repairs again.

,“When I purchased the business I was not giving the option to purchase flood insurance. The insurance adjustor said since I was a owner, not a mortgage lender my business didn’t need to have flood insurance.  I only had wind and rain insurance as a basic requirement and the flood insurance was never optioned to me,” Leblanc said.

After the storm the adjustors came out to the business to determined what type of damage the building received.

According to Senior General Adjustor Salvatone Silcox, he feels the damage is caused by faulty installation of the ventilation system by ISI Commercial out of Beaumont. I then contacted ISI about this information as I have had problems with this company once I first opened,” Leblanc stated. “ISI installed a grill, vent a hood system, and exhaust fans on the room, and not long after the installation vent a hood started to leak. I called ISI to report the leak and they came out to fix the leak but they didn’t fix it all the way. I had to call them out again and they came out and guaranteed me the leak was fixed, but the leak continued. I called them back a third time about the same leak, and ISI told me, ‘Oscar take the light cover off the ventilation hood that should solve the problems’.”

“Now that ISI knows that the problem was never fixed, they want to know what it will take to satisfy me as a customer? I feel if the work would have been done right, the damage to my building wouldn’t have been so bad,” Leblanc said.

“ISI still feels most of the damage occurred from a upstairs window in the attic that was open only for the workers there and it was not opened during Tropical Storm Harvey. My insurance adjustors even sees most of the damage was caused by the ventilation hoods, not an open window,” Leblanc added. “After constant conversations with ISI, they have finally agreed to offer all new equipment to my business on their behalf and mistake,” Leblanc says.

But his business received more damages than just the equipment they installed.

The building had severe water damage, grease was all over the building due to the leaking vents.

“I lost four deep freezers, one ice box, two beverage coolers, one grease filter machine, one meat slicer, one meat grinder, one double doors stainless steel cooler, a window ac unit, several life jackets, eight tables, 48 chairs, food and drinks and all my supplies worth about $100,000,” Leblanc said. “This is just damaged  items not even including the property damage. Now my insurance wont help at all cause they are saying my business flooded.”

Even with a bright yellow sign outside stating the business is closed for repairs, customers call for updates for the projected reopening date.

“My customers are constantly calling for food and asking when the business will reopen,” Leblanc said. “The business was selling around 400 hamburgers a day and I want to reopen more than anything but I am in need of financial help this time”.

Richard Phillips Sr., a big supporter of Blue Birds said he stands behind Leblanc 100 percent and Orange lost a good place to not eat but a place to get out and pass the day away.

“If I had the money to give Leblanc I would do it in a heart beat because I know the love that Blue Birds offers it’s customers,” Phillips said. “I may not be able to donate everything Leblanc needs but I will donate any and everything I can. I hope the community will understand this and feel the same way that I do.”

A good fund me account has been set up to help the business rebuild and you can donate by visiting https://www.gofundme.com/bluebird-fish-camp