Blind River Bar Reopening In Time For Tickfaw 200 Poker Run

Blind River Bar Reopening In Time For Tickfaw 200 Poker Run

Located at the intersection of Blind River and the Amite Diversion Canal in Maurepas, La., Blind River Bar, which is only accessible by boat, has been a hot spot for locals in and around Livingston Parish since it opened in 1983. For years it was arguably the most popular stop of the incredibly popular two-day Tickfaw 200 Poker Run hosted by Blood River Landing in Springfield, La. That was until a fire in 2017 destroyed the bar and then-owner Sam Smith opted to let his church use the on-site cabins as a retreat center.

Construction of the updated Blind River Bar in Maurepas, La., is nearly complete and boaters can’t wait to visit the property that’s been a local fixture for more than 40 years. Photos courtesy Dustin Clouatre

That lasted for a few years until a local boater, who owns TR Waste Solutions, a commercial and industrial waste business based in Gonzales, La., became very interested in the property and decided to hound Smith on a regular basis until Smith relented and sold it to him in 2022.

“I called Sam every Thursday for a year asking him to sell it—I pretty much begged him to buy it—and after enough aggravation he finally gave in,” said Dustin Clouatre, who currently owns a 40-foot TechnoHull rigid inflatable boat named Trashy that is powered by twin Mercury Racing 450R engines. “It’s taken a lot of time, work, money and partnerships to get to this point, but we can’t wait to show off the new Blind River Bar during the Tickfaw 200.

“The funny thing is that I came home one evening and my wife, Blair, had found out through some friends that we bought the old bar property and she wasn’t very happy with me,” he added and chuckled. “I promised her it would be a place to party but also a place that welcomes families. After a few days of no communication, she came around to the idea.”

And the rest was history as Clouatre and his team of architects, contractors and investment partners went to work on bringing back a better Blind River Bar almost two years ago.

“It’s no longer the hole in the wall it once was—and I hate to say that because I absolutely loved that hole in the wall—but we’re two and a half million dollars in so of course it’s in a little better shape than it used to be,” Clouatre said with a laugh. “We started driving pilings two years ago and just this past December the framing of the bar started taking place. The bar grew from a ‘just a few sea cans’ kind of place to a full-blown bar and restaurant with a kids splash pad, a playground and a full-fledge arcade in honor of the original Blind River Bark kids arcade.

“As the project grew, the phone started ringing for people wanting to partner on the bar,” he continued. “It seemed like I went from ‘that idiot building a bar’ to ‘how can we be a part of it?’ I teamed up with my friends at Rescom Construction who are my partners on a King Air—Jimbo Burns, Veronica Burns and Chris Dupre—and as the project went on, my father-in-law, Steve Rabalais of Rabalais Homes, wanted some skin in the game and became the pusher to build 10 new cottages to rent out, which we did.”

Clouatre added that Rabalais owns a Sunsation Powerboats 40 CCX that was purchased from their mutual friend, Scott Favre, and that it is named Hey Bae, although Clouatre said he calls it “SOB” for Scott’s Old Boat.

The interior of the new Blind River Bar is starting to come together.

According to Clouatre, the property already had about 1,000 feet of dock space but that he’s adding another 200 feet of floating docks for the Tickfaw 200 Poker Run. He also said the bar used to face only the canal and that it now faces toward the point so you can see the boats coming and going from Lake Maurepas.

“One of the architects on the project suggested we face the bar a different direction and I wasn’t quite sure about his suggestion because I was used to it the way it was, but I’m sure glad he won the argument,” Clouatre explained. “It’s such a beautiful view now to just sit there and watch the boats go by on the river. I really have to thank everyone who had a hand in this project. You can imagine that anything we do out there is three times harder than it is to do on dryland. Just bringing everything up to code was a massive amount of work.”

Clouatre expects Blind River Bar to open about two weeks before the Tickfaw 200 Poker Run, which is scheduled for May 2-4. According to the Tickfaw 200 website, where event registration is currently open, participants can pick up their entry badges at Blood River Landing, which is only open to the public once a year for this event, on Thursday, May 2 and start getting their badges punched at noon on Thursday through Saturday afternoon.

Dustin Clouatre is looking forward to running his 40-foot, outboard-powered TechnoHull in next month’s Tickfaw 200 Poker Run.

“The weekend before Tickfaw is going to be our official grand opening and we can’t wait to be a stop on the country’s best poker run,” Clouatre said. “We’re hopeful the new bar is well received. It’s different than what we’re used to out here in the swamp—it was inspired by other popular on-water properties around the country. The best part about it, to me, is that you can only get there by boat. Being accessible only from the water is kind of the whole novelty behind this place.

“I grew up going to Blind River Bar and my vision was to bring it back better than ever and make it even friendlier for families,” he continued. “Of course kids are not allowed in the bar, but this place is still going to be fun for them between the splash pad and the arcade, which is bigger and better than before.”

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