RIP Demitasse/Reflections On Facebook As A News Source

Tonight, as I scrolled through my Facebook news feed, I learned the disheartening news that the coffee/sandwich shop Demitasse was burning down in my old town of Thibodaux, La.

After spotting this on a friend’s status, I reached for my phone and called my old coworkers at the town’s newspaper to alert them. A reporter was already on the scene, of course. I returned to refreshing my Facebook page.

The news from the home front — in this case, my Facebook news feed and my coworkers — was grim. The Demitasse and Debbie’s Antiques, which are housed in the same building, were fully engulfed in flames.

Eventually photos and iPhone video emerged on Facebook. They confirmed the worst. The local newspaper’s web site also posted breaking news about the fire.

This event is significant for two reasons: The Demitasse and Debbie’s Antiques are treasures of Thibodaux — a town beseeched by corporate fast food chains and sorely lacking in local charm — and this is the first time I can recall watching a local news event unfold on my Facebook news feed.

Receiving news from social media is nothing new. Twitter is a fantastic regional/national news resource, whether you are looking for the latest in politics, sports or entertainment, because you can follow reporters and newsmakers. In large cities, it is also a strong local news provider, through the use of 140-character tidbits and links.

Facebook is different. It’s a site most people I know visit to keep up with friends, look at pictures and waste time. It’s not an information based site, by nature.

While the brief accounts I read on my Facebook news feed hardly would be mistaken for works of journalism, they were informative enough for me to grasp the gravity of the situation and ultimately the news hook — The Demitasse and Debbie’s Antiques burned down tonight.

That may or may not motivate people to visit the local newspaper’s web site or purchase a newspaper tomorrow to find out the fire’s cause, the extent of the damage and reactions from locals on the cultural loss when the building burned. Locally owned businesses don’t burn down everyday, after all.

I have fond memories of Demitasse, particularly its panini sandwiches, chill atmosphere and the garish ladies’ hats my friends and I jokingly wore while eating there (don’t ask). I am less familiar with Debbie’s Antiques, but I gathered that it had a rustic charm of its own that will be missed.

Not to pick on Wal-Mart, but if the Super Wal-Mart in town burned down people would not mourn it like they will the loss of Demitasse and Debbie’s Antiques. In a small town like Thibodaux, which fails to embrace its own uniqueness, this is a tragic loss. A piece of the town’s fabric is gone.

I’m shocked The Demitasse and Debbie’s Antiques are gone. I’m equally shocked I learned about their collective demise on Facebook in real-time.

6 thoughts on “RIP Demitasse/Reflections On Facebook As A News Source”

  1. I was devastated when I found out this morning. (also through facebook). I called and woke up my best friend to break the news…We are both so busy, so we schedule breakfast or lunch dates…and we end up going there for breakfast and then we spend hours looking through all the antiques…it was our spot….and worst than the restaurant burning, is the thought of all the pieces of history that burned in that building! It’s sad and I’m truly broken hearted over this.

  2. Hi Cajun Tomato. I personally logged onto my FB account this morning to see a post from a friend saying “RIP Demitasse. I will miss cozy conversations . . . . .” I immediately googled the Demitasse fire, and your blog post was right at the top of the list.

    Love your writing style and would like you to visit my blog about life in the Louisiana wetlands called Bayou Woman:

    It’s my way of educating people about and entertaining them with our culture and way of life.

    Thanks for the blog post.

    Bayou Woman

  3. Thanks for the heartfelt story. My sister put her blood sweat and tears into that building. She truly lived for it and we were so proud of her. It truly helps to know that others loved it as she and David did.
    Thanks so much,

  4. Demitasse was one of a kind ! It was so cozy and so much detailed talent put into it !!! There were several priceless peices that are gone, and aren’t replaceable. What a huge loss!!! Its going to be missed by so many people. Most of all my heart goes out to Debbie and David!!! They worked so hard for so many years to bring Demitasse to what it was! They brought something wonderful to the community !!! :(

  5. When your whole life is surounded by your business and in an instant it is taking away by fire it is perhaps one of the worst nightmares you can have. This is what happen last Tuesday to my daughter and son in law. They put their life into their business. Many days they were there from 6am to 12pm. They truly cared for people and helped many when they faced hard times. We now ask for your help. Get behind Debbie and David. They will come back. It will be a rough road but with the community behind them they will make it. Please keep them in your prayers.

  6. Demitasse was a such a great place to meet with friends and loved ones, share a cup of coffee, eat a delicious panini, and browse the beautiful antiques. My cousin and her husband have put every inch of their hearts and lives into Demitasse. It is so devasting to see such a beautiful peaceful place where we have shared so many memories gone. Demitasse will be a huge loss for the city of Thibodaux and the surrounding areas that the lovely cafe drew patrons from. R.I.P. Demitasse but ur memories we will cherish for a lifetime. Thank everyone for the support they have shown for my cousins and our family. <3

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