Razzoo’s Cajun Café’s Open Door Approach Builds Customer Loyalty

For soups and some sauce bases for gumbo, staff use high-capacity tilting skillets and a 10-gallon steam-jacketed kettle.

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At the sauté station, which contains an eight-burner range, staff prepare small-batch sauces for crawfish étouffée, shrimp creole, and jalapeno cheese sauce for the bacon-wrapped grilled shrimp en brochette. "Making sauces in small batches is one key to our success," Powell says. "It's fresh continually during service." Staff also prepare red beans and rice, as well as Cajun fried chicken, at the sauté station

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In addition to grilling shrimp, rib eye steak, andouille sausage, hamburgers and ribs, Razzoo's staff use a flattop griddle to prepare blackened protein items including fish and gator.

Six fryers sizzle Gulf Coast oysters, Cajun fried chicken, jalapeno catfish, chicken breast strips, shrimp, crawfish, fries, hush puppies, pickles and green beans.

The convection oven cooks ribs and bakes peach and pecan bread pudding, which is topped with a dark rum sauce; brownies are served with ice cream in Razzoo's mud sundaes.

Razzoo's recycling process varies by unit. "We've taken on recycling food containers and packaging, but some municipalities are very restrictive in what they'll allow," Powell says. "We're always looking for partners to handle our volume."

As the Razzoo's Cajun Café concept continues to expand, the owners and designers will continue to tweak the menu and decor to fit each location. "This concept is nothing fancy," Powell says. "You probably won't see us on TV or in a cookbook. We are simply committed to opening our doors every day . . . even when an ice storm during the Super Bowl makes that difficult. We just enjoy meeting the people walking through our doors, and taking great care of them. They have paid us back with tremendous loyalty."

Key Players

  • Owner and President: Jeff Powell
  • Vice President, Operations: Garret Brooks
  • Vice President, Planning and Technology: Chris Degan
  • Vice President, Purchasing/Procurement: John Jessup
  • Vice President, Finance and Accounting: Dianne Slaight
  • Architects and Interior Designers: Zero 3, Dallas; Paul Brian Jankowski, architect, and Jan M. Martin, interior designer
  • Artist/Craftsman: Greg Kennedy, Dallas

Facts of Note

  • Ownership: Senior Management
  • Founded: 1991
  • Headquarters: Addison, Texas
  • Unit Locations: 15, including 11 in the Dallas/Fort Worth market, and others in Harker Heights, Round Rock and Stafford, Texas, and Concord, N.C., outside of Charlotte.
  • Growth Strategy: Steady and controlled expansion, which in the next 12 months will include openings in Tyler, Texas, and in Fort Worth’s Alliance Town Center. The company’s intention is to “never outgrow our cash, our culture or our people.”
  • Franchisees: None
  • Size: 5,500 sq. ft. to 8,000 sq. ft., endcap spaces in shopping centers or second-generation stand-alone buildings.
  • Seats: 200 on average
  • Average Check: $12 to $17
  • Total Annual Sales: $48 million (individual store average, $3.2 million)
  • Average Daily Transactions: 175
  • Hours: Typically, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays; 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday nights
  • Key Menu Items: “Rat Toes” (shrimp- and crab-stuffed jalapenos, battered and fried); Cajun Combo Skillet (grilled andouille sausage, shrimp creole, étouffée, red beans ‘n’ rice served in a cast iron skillet); Stuff’d Shrimp (large shrimp loaded with crab stuffing, topped with a creamy sauce); Chicken Tchoupitoulas (grilled chicken breast served over diced ham, mushrooms and new potatoes, all topped with a special sauce); freshly shucked Gulf Coast oysters served raw on the half shell or grilled with garlic butter and a little Parmesan cheese; and made-to-order peach and pecan bread pudding topped with a dark rum sauce. Among the popular new drink categories are Mason Jar Chillers and Beeritas.
  • Staff: 1,200 total in company; 80 per unit on average
  • Unit Investment: $1.2 million to $1.5 million
  • Equipment Investment: $400,000, including furniture, fixtures and equipment
  • Website: www.razzoos.com
  • Twitter: @Razzoos_Cajun
  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/Razzoos
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