The French doughnuts at Houston's Chez Beignet are up there with the beignets at Café Du Monde in the French Quarter, Morning Call in Metairie or any other Louisiana donut stand. And they come with a mug of chicory coffee au lait, if you like them that way. An elderly German couple named the Jantzens have been making quality beignets in Space City for over a decade now.
For most of its history, Chez Beignet was located on Buffalo Speedway across from Buco de Beppo. When the shopping center it occupied was demolished for new construction two years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Jantzen moved their business to Bellaire Boulevard in the new Chinatown area. Their clientele is now 95 percent Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Americans. The move has brought some changes.
When Chez Beignet became very popular in the Vietnamese community, it earned the nickname "quan ong gia," which translates to "the old guy's store," a reference to Joachim Jantzen. His wife Teda Jantzen told me she was a little irked at him being called old, but Mr. Jantzen assured her that it was an honor to be given such a nickname and that it symbolized their acceptance in the new community.
The old German doughnut-maker printed up T-shirts with the Vietnamese moniker and even put it on a new sign to the front of his store.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.