Percy Pennington "Frenchy" Creuzot, Jr. (May 28, 1924 – June 6, 2010) was a restaurateur who founded Frenchy's Chicken in Houston, Texas. Due to his success, he became known as "the black Colonel Sanders."
Life and business
On May 28, 1924, Creuzot was born in New Orleans. His father, Dr. Percy P. Creuzot, Sr., was a doctor. Creuzot, Jr. served in the United States Navy in World War II and received an honorable discharge in 1946. In 1949 he graduated from the Hampton Institute, now known as Hampton University. In the 1950s he worked as an insurance agent. Creuzot stated he was losing money selling insurance, so he moved to Houston.
In Houston Creuzot initially wanted to establish a Louisiana-style sausage business, but he found that it would be more costly than he originally believed because the Texas and federal authorities had increased regulations on those types of businesses.
He arrived in Houston in 1965. Herff-Jones Jewelry, an Indiana-based manufacturing company of high school graduation supplies hired Creuzot as a salesperson for the black high schools in Houston. On the side, Creuzot sold New Orleans-style sno-balls. After desegregation allowed employees to serve schools of any race, the company reduced its workforce and laid off Creuzot. Creuzot found that his new job at the Texas Workforce Commission did not pay enough to "buy the grits and grease" and he "wanted to live a little better." Creuzot established Frenchy's in 1969. Prior to the opening of the restaurant, Creuzot was not known by the nickname "Frenchy". He gained the nickname "Frenchy's" because people associated the name of the restaurant with him.
Philanthropy and other efforts
Creuzot constantly supported Texas Southern University (TSU). Governor of Texas Bill Clements appointed Creuzot to the board of regents. He eventually was elected vice chair, and he served for twelve years. He also served on the board of directors of Catholic Charities. In addition he was a member of restaurant associations at the Houston, Texas, and national levels and he also was a member of the Houston Citizens Review Board.
Creuzot had an affiliation with the Greater Houston Visitors & Convention Center, and he was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He was a member of the Knights of St. Peter Claver and the fraternities Alpha Phi Alpha and Sigma Pi Phi.
He married Sallie Coleman in 1947 and had three children: Percy III, Angele, and John C. Percy III became the owner of the original Frenchy's, and for a period Angele operated a Frenchy's on South Shepherd in Neartown. John C. Creuzot became a state district judge; as of 1994 John lived in Third Ward. Creuzot also had 3 sisters, Alexa Delahoussaye, Hortense Turner, and Martina Cox. After his death, he was survived by his sister Martina, wife, and children.
- History of the African-Americans in Houston
- Jim Goode, restaurateur who founded Goode Company
- Ninfa Laurenzo, Mexican-American restaurateur who founded Ninfa's
- Felix Tijerina, restaurateur who founded Felix's
- Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church (Louisiana Creole Church in Houston)
- "CREUZOT, PERCY PENNINGTON, JR. (FRENCHY)." Handbook of Texas. Retrieved on May 1, 2014.
- "PERCY 'FRENCHY' CREUZOT: A CREOLE HIT" (Archive). Associated Press. April 30, 1985. Retrieved on May 1, 2014.
- Turner, Allan. "Frenchy's founder Percy Creuzot dies at 86" (Obituary). Houston Chronicle. June 7, 2010. Retrieved on April 21, 2014.
- Levinson, Brian. "Frenchy's Restaurants files for Chapter 11 protection." Houston Chronicle. Friday, May 1, 1987. Business p. 1. Retrieved on May 1, 2014. Available at Newsbank, Record Number: HSC0501459764. It may be accessed online using a Houston Public Library library card.
- Boisseau, Charles. "Black-owned firms run gamut from struggle to success." Houston Chronicle. Monday, July 29, 1991. Business p. 2. Available at NewsBank, Record Number 07*29*799745. Available online from the Houston Public Library with a library card.
- Rodriguez, Lori. "GOP reaches out to Dallas minorities/Dem ties a hindrance in Harris County." Houston Chronicle. Sunday December 11, 1994. Section A News, p. 1. Available from NewsBank, Record Number HSC12111243932. Available with a library card from the Houston Public Library website. "Like Shannon, Canales says minorities need a foot in both camps. And even African-American state District Judge John C. Creuzot, who was not on the ballot this year and is the lone surviving Democratic minority on the bench, says a party switch "is always a possibility."[...]Creuzot, who hails from Houston's Third Ward and whose mother, Sally, still operates Frenchy's Chicken on Scott and Wheeler, boils down the Harris County dilemma to a historical alignment of minorities to the Democratic Party that is hard to sever."