Artifacts reflecting Louisiana’s lifestyle were on full display at the new Lost Cajun restaurant in Lexington as workers made final preparations this week to open a restaurant that its owner hopes offers a different taste for Midlands diners.
When the restaurant opens Monday, Lost Cajun’s menu will offer diners a sampling of Cajun cuisine – based on cooked flavors grown or plucked straight out of the Louisiana Bayou.
The menu includes crawfish etouffee, lobster bisque, red beans, chicken and sausage gumbo and jambalaya, said Joey Turbeville, owner of the new eatery on Sunset Boulevard across from the Target store.
“When they walk in the place, we ask them if they’ve been in before, then we hand out that sample paddle, and you get to try everything in there,” Turbeville said, moving among a bevy of Lost Cajun corporate trainers, state health inspectors, new employees and decorators.
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A 20-year veteran of the restaurant business, Turbeville comes from a family of restaurateurs, and currently co-owns three Columbia-area Zaxby restaurants in Irmo, Lexington and Columbia in Two Notch Road. In 1995, Turbeville owned a sandwich shop in Irmo, which he operated for five years before opening the Zaxby’s.
“I was kind of looking for something a little different,” Turbeville said in deciding to open Lost Cajun. The number of hamburger joints, chicken places, pizza parlors and Mexican and Chinese restaurants led him on a year-long journey that ended when he found Lost Cajun, he said.
The Lost Cajun features a bar, dining room and an open kitchen where diners can watch food preparation, Turbeville said. Food is cooked in 80-quart pots and stirred with wooden paddles, he said.
Many people assume Cajun cuisine is spicy, Turbeville said. That’s not always the case, he said.
Some of the menu selections “have a little bit of kick to them,” Turbeville said. “I thought Cajun food was hot, too. You can take hot sauce and heat it up all you want to. But, the majority of it is flavor. It’s the slow cooking flavor.”
Once cooked, the food is placed in a cooler, where the flavoring deepens, Turbeville said.
“It’s better the next day. That’s the way you cook it,” he said “You’ll always be cooking. Always be smelling.”
About 55 workers had been hired for the 3,000-square-foot restaurant, Turbeville said.
The restaurant initially will open daily at 11 a.m., serving lunch and through the evening until 9 p.m. weekdays, and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights.
Turbeville said he owns the territorial rights to Lost Cajun restaurants throughout South Carolina and plans to open one in Greenville next and then possibly on the coast.
Reach Burris at (803) 771-8398