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Morganza malt shop raises over $3k in fundraising

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MORGANZA – There’s an effort underway to restore the local icon here: a malt shop from bygone times.

Right now, it’s unsightly: A falling overhang, broken windows, and decades-old tile. But, a business owner hopes to revitalize the former restaurant.

“The hamburgers, the malts, [people loved] the soft serve ice cream… and... a chocolate cone,” Donnie “Bear” Derbes reminisced about the joint in his sleepy spillway town. “They had crushed ice with fountain drinks, like a regular malt shop,” he said Wednesday, a few days ahead of a town event to raise money to revitalize the shop.

Derbes owns what's left of the malt shop and he wants to bring it back to its glory days. It’s an effort to also bring other business back to town.

“The lady that was running it, Miss Rose Cassio, she made a comment one day about I bought so many hamburgers that I could've bought the place. Didn't know that 20 years later I would have,” he said.

It’s been nearly 30 years since the malt shop was open. The last time it was anything was as a video rental store.

Derbes said, “businesses, they've been tearing down the last 20 years. One by one, we been losing them. Right now, we're just trying to get it to where we can get Morganza back a little bit you know, and try to bring some kind of business back to town.”

The Morganza Revitalization Project is using the malt shop as a starting point to bring the town back from its hay day – a time when businesses dotted the area and Easy Rider filmed here.

“We're trying to get it back going again. Get tourists to come pass through. We've got a lot of history,” said Derbes.

On Saturday, Derbes and the Morganza Revitalization Project sold barbecue chicken plates at the malt shop. All proceeds will go toward re-opening the malt shop.

If you'd like to donate to the group's GoFundMe page, click here. You can also make donations in Donnie Derbes' name at Guarantee Bank in New Roads.

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