Houston’s original cajun restaurant celebrates 40 years

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HOUSTON, TX – Guess what Houston? It’s springtime. And down here on the bayou that means one thing: ‘laissez les bon temps rouler.’ It’s crawfish season! And when you’re ready to suck some heads and pinch some tail, there’s a little place you’ve known for years. It’s called the Ragin Cajun.

“We started in 1974,” original owner Luke Mandola explains as he shows us around the chain’s first location on Richmond Avenue. “We opened up a po’boy place called Ray Hay’s Cajun Po’boys and about five years later, Ray Hay left us and we changed it to the Ragin Cajun restaurant and we went into the gumbo, we went into the red beans and rice and we were the first ones ever to bring crawfish into Houston and we were really the first ones to make a shrimp po’boy in the Houston area.”

Believe it or not the original Ragin Cajun is turning 40-years-old.

“We’re now hitting third and fourth generation,” Luke’s son, Dominic says. “I see grandpa, father and grandson on a Saturday eating a shrimp po’boy a cup of gumbo and a cup of red beans and rice.”

Dominic, runs the place these days and Chew on This: the secret to the restaurant’s success is simple: nothing has changed since the day they opened. Every sauce and ever recipe, down to mama’s gumbo, untouched nearly 40 years.

“To me, that is a very cool tradition that I’ve been given to,” Dominic says, “and that’s my job is to continue on, to continue bringing the authentic food of southwest Louisiana to Houstonians.”

As they say in New Orleans, ‘cest ci bon.’ Bring on the crawfish.