They didn't make it in time for Mardi Gras, but one Cajun restaurant chain announced Tuesday that it will open in Mansfield this week, and another Cajun-oriented one will break ground in Irving next week.
The Irving one has a big name connected to it: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
But let's get to the Mansfield one first, because it's opening Wednesday.
The Lost Cajun, so called because its Louisiana-raised founder, Raymond Griffin, opened the flagship location in Summit County, Colorado (skiing mecca Breckenridge is the county seat), will open its first Tarrant location at 1530 E. Debbie Lane, which according to Google Maps puts it smack at an intersection with a Kroger, a Sprouts Farmers Market and a Walmart Neighborhood Market, so it will get noticed.
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This is the sixth Texas location — and a Fort Worth one is listed as "coming soon."
The menu is kinda what you'd expect at a Cajun-style place: Lots of gumbo (including a vegetarian option), red beans & rice, crawfish etoufee, jambalaya, etc., including po-boys and beignets.
According to "The Legend of the Lost Cajun," which is on the online menu, Griffin and his (now-deceased) wife, Belinda, had owned a fishing lodge in Louisiana until Hurricane Katrina and other big storms hit, as well as damage from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Having had enough, they moved to Colorado, where they opened a gumbo shop in Frisco ... Colorado (Frisco is a short drive from Breckenridge).
From there, locations spread across Colorado, Texas and to such outposts as Henderson, Tennessee, and Greenville, South Carolina. Further expansion is planned in Texas and Colorado, but so far, no Louisiana plans.
Although doors open tomorrow, the grand opening and ribbon cutting are planned for March 14. For updates, follow @TheLostCajunMansfield on Facebook.
You'll have to wait longer for Walk-On's, which plans to open in October (usual caveat: restaurants seldom hit their target dates) at 3165 Regent Blvd. in Irving. This is off a stretch of the LBJ Freeway between Coppell and north Dallas that is already nuts with restaurants, and Walk-On's will be landing somewhere between a Slim Chickens and a Pinstack bowling/entertainment center.
The chain is based in Baton Rouge and has 17 locations in Louisiana and Texas, with plans for expansion across the South. Brees and his wife, Brittany, became co-owners in 2015.
Before you get too excited (especially if you're a Saints fan), Brees will not be at the ground-breaking.
At the time, DFW was only a gleam in the eye of Lubbock entrepreneurs Johnny Qubty and Josh Allen, who will both be at the groundbreaking at 11 a.m. Tuesday (although there won't be a restaurant yet, there will be menu samples). Expect more DFW locations; a Fort Worth/Tarrant location might be part of the mix.
"“Walk-on” is a sports term for an athlete who has not been drafted or otherwise invited to join a team, but shows up and finds a slot anyway. Which is how co-founders Brandon Landry and Jack Warner met, according to the restaurant’s website: They were both walk-ons for the LSU Tigers basketball team. When they were on the road, they visited restaurants and sports bars in other cities and took notes.
Once again, the menu has a lot of the usual suspects, but there are also such things as "Cajundillas" — like a quesadilla but stuffed with Andouille and boudin sausages as well as chicken and Jack cheese — burgers (including one with a patty stuffed with bacon, American cheese and mozzarella, as well as a black-bean burger with a Tabasco Pepper Jelly-infused vinaigrette), and some intriguing-sounding desserts, including Krispy Kreme bread pudding and butter-pecan pie.
The 8,500-square-foot Irving restaurant expects to add roughly 150 new jobs to the local economy, according to a release. For a complete menu and more information, visit walk-ons.com.