In July of 1976, Benny Nele and family officially reopened Big Star Food Center at 739 South Union Street. Upon reopening, the store was renamed Benny’s Big Star, though some locals referred to it simply as “Benny’s”. Besides selling groceries, the store featured a delicatessen, serving hot lunches daily.
In 1985 when National Food Store stopped doing business on Union Street in Opelousas, Benny purchased that store and moved into the larger building at 806 South Union Street. He renamed his grocery store Benny’s Supermarket
The son of Bernice and Tony Nele, Benny was born in Beaumont, Texas in 1939. Benny began his career during high school by working part time in the Kroger’s produce department. After he graduated, Benny went on to work for the Market Basket Stores in Beaumont and Port Arthur, TX as a produce manager, then Store Manager. He also spent time working in wholesale produce before returning to Market Basket Stores as Director of Produce Operations. Benny remained in Beaumont until he moved from there to Opelousas in 1976 to open Benny’s Big Star.
As soon as the family settled in Opelousas, Benny immediately became active in the Opelousas business and civic organizations including the Boni Fidem Fraternity, the French Club, the Opelousas Sertoma Club, the Opelousas Elks Club and the Opelousas Chamber of Commerce. He was a strong supporter of the Louisiana Yambilee Association, serving on their board of directors. He was chosen by the Yambilee to lead their parade as Grand Marshall in 1990 and served as Mr. Yam for the 61st Louisiana Yambilee Festival in 2006. He promoted Louisiana Yams and won many national and state contests featuring fresh and canned Louisiana Sweet Potatoes. He was also very involved in the Louisiana Retail Food Dealers Association, serving as its president.
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Benny ran his grocery store with his wife and children for 38 years, retiring and selling the business in 2014 to Chad Soprano, who operated the store until 2021. On May 1st of that year, it was sold to Seth Robin, who owns and operates the store today
Seth first began working at Benny’s as an afternoon stocker in 2008, his junior year at Opelousas High. In 2010, while attending UL, Seth was promoted to Assistant Store Manager and was promoted again to General Manager in 2016. Seth worked in that position until 2021, when he had the opportunity to purchase Benny’s Supermarket from Soprano. Today, Seth Robin is the owner and manager of Benny’s Supermarket on South Union Street in Opelousas.