The Lost Cajun is introducing Louisiana’s traditional Cajun cuisine and hospitality nationwide. With nine restaurants already open and operating in four states, seven of which have opened since the beginning of 2014, The Lost Cajun hopes to open eight to 10 new restaurants by the end of 2017 and have as many as 50 locations nationwide in the next five years. Three restaurants are already under construction and expected to open in the next couple of months.
“Our family is growing. As the word spreads around the country about our great food, unique atmosphere and one-of-a-kind culture, people from everywhere are asking the same questions over and over, ‘What makes a Lost Cajun so special?’” says Raymond “Griff’” Griffin, founder of The Lost Cajun. “Well, my friends, the answer is pretty simple. We offer a unique brand that is not just another sandwich shop, pizza place or burger joint. We serve a segment of the market that is not currently being addressed.”
For 15 years, Griff and his wife, Belinda, owned and operated a fishing lodge just south of New Orleans. That’s where he learned how to cook authentic Cajun food. But then came Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav, and the oil spill. After that last disaster, he and Belinda took an RV vacation to Colorado. They were so impressed—they decided it was time to leave Louisiana for good.
“We had always talked about opening a little gumbo shop, but I didn’t have any idea of how to operate a restaurant. I knew how to cook, and I knew how to give good service. Let’s keep it simple—cook some gumbo and fry some fish,” Griff adds.
They opened the original Lost Cajun in October 2010 in Frisco, Colorado. The original menu had four items: seafood gumbo, fried catfish, chicken and sausage gumbo, and beignets. In 2012, Griff’s best friend and fishing buddy, Jon Espey, joined him and they opened The Lost Cajun in Breckenridge Colorado.
Today, The Lost Cajun has expanded its menu to include all the traditional Cajun fare, including a variety of gumbos—seafood, chicken, chicken and sausage, and vegetarian. Red beans and rice, crawfish etouffeé and lobster bisque also top the menu, as does another Cajun staple, jambalaya. And what Cajun restaurant would be complete without beignets for dessert?
The Lost Cajun further distinguishes itself with a fantastic down-home atmosphere—a true hole-in-the-wall with wooden tables, unique decorations and an expertly crafted playlist of Zydeco music. The open kitchen concept harks back to the wooden counters in Louisiana’s gumbo houses; patrons can watch their food being cooked and hear the courtesy and respect commonly associated with Cajun culture.
“At The Lost Cajun, all the workers—from the chef to the servers—have three phrases ingrained in their vocabulary: ‘please,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome,’” says Espey. “Patrons can hear the interaction between chef and server: ‘Order in, Chef.’ ‘Thank you, Chef.’ Servers address patrons using ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am.’”
To augment the company’s growth and introduce even more consumers to its authentic Cajun food and hospitality, The Lost Cajun is currently seeking both single- and multi-unit franchisees. Opportunities are available in Colorado, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Territories are also available for multi-unit development in other select states. Including an initial franchise fee of $35,000, the initial investment range to open a Lost Cajun franchise is $178,100to $332,300 for a single unit.