A new beginning: Cajun House & Catering opening soon in LaPlace

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The new, full-service lunch and dinner restaurant has a projected grand opening date of December 1.

LAPLACE — When Executive Chef Ryan Cashio walked into The Cajun Grill & Catering for the first time after Hurricane Ida, it felt like everything was ripped out of him and his life’s work was stolen away. In that moment, he didn’t realize a new beginning was just around the corner, waiting to restore his passion for cooking.

The Cajun Grill is now Cajun House & Catering LLC, a new full-service lunch and dinner restaurant projected to open in early December at 405 Belle Terre Blvd. Ste A in LaPlace.

After 20 years of operating a lunchtime grill, Chef Ryan is taking his culinary talents to the next level with a home-cooking spin on traditional Cajun foods. While his longtime motto, “Life’s too short to eat bad food” still proves true, this new restaurant will allow the St. John Parish community to “Taste da South in ya mouth.”

“Cajun House and Catering will still have a steady lunch menu, but we are going to take it to the next level. Don’t worry, the OMG sauce is not going anywhere,” Chef Ryan said. “I have quite a few ideas for the menus we are developing right now. We’ll have a boiling house in the back to do seafood boils during season. We’re also going to have some steaks and some other Cajun items at night. One thing I want to do it’s a deconstructed seafood poboy.”

Chef Ryan is also excited to unveil a dessert menu, which will include a three-way beignet that can be made traditionally with powdered sugar or topped with whipped cream and chocolate or caramel syrup.

Cajun House will offer a friendly atmosphere perfect for date nights or casual family dinners. A private dining room is the perfect spot for special occasions. Chef Ryan said the catering services that the community has come to know and love will be carried over to the new restaurant.

Beer and wine will be served, and a Sunday brunch menu is in the works. Cajun House will be open seven days a week, with abbreviated hours on Sunday and Monday and extended hours on Friday and Saturday. Lunch will be offered daily, while dinner service will be offered Tuesday through Saturday.

This new start is also an opportunity for Chef Ryan and his wife, Heidi Cashio, to come together as a team. The Cashios recently celebrated their third wedding anniversary, and Heidi is excited for her new role as the owner of Cajun House & Catering LLC. Trained in business and education, Heidi will handle all of the logistical aspects of running the restaurant.

“I’m doing the business side of it, and Ryan is going to be able to focus more on what he loves to do, which is cooking. It’s a fresh start, a clean slate, and it’s a great opportunity for me to become part of the business,” Heidi said.

It’s been a long road to get to this point, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on mom-and-pop restaurants for the past 18 months.

“COVID just ripped our restaurant apart. We watched so many restaurants close during the pandemic. Catering went to almost nothing. People were working from home and stopped going out to eat lunch. We made the decision to keep all of the staff and made payroll and bills by the skin of our teeth. There were months that we lost money,” Ryan said.

Life has been just as unpredictable on the family front. The Cashios discovered their oldest son had a malignant brain tumor one month prior to the start of the pandemic. Thankfully, his cancer went into remission not long before Hurricane Ida.

The past two years have also included two graduating seniors, their oldest daughter having a baby, their youngest son going into the military, and Heidi’s father undergoing heart surgery. Adding hurricane destruction to the mix would be enough to break anyone, but the Cashio family has a way of achieving the impossible.

After Hurricane Ida ravaged his restaurant, Ryan received lucrative job offers locally and out of state that would have taken him away from cooking. He prayed to God to guide his path, and His answer came loud and clear through a phone call the next day. A representative from a local plant was on the other end of the line, asking Ryan to cook for a Hurricane Ida relief distribution.

Ryan cooked roughly 1,300 meals per day for 10 days with only a couple of burners to create a makeshift kitchen inside a firehouse. He and his family had to scavenge for supplies day-by-day, as stores were only just beginning to reopen with limited selections. With help from a very dedicated and hardworking staff, they managed to pull it off.

By the end of the 10 days, Ryan and Heidi felt a renewed hope for the future. It was the push they needed to open Cajun House when the location that formerly housed TNT Restaurant became available.

Heidi said Veron’s Provisions, DJ’s Restaurant and Sandwich World also helped provide necessary supplies to make the distributions a success.

“They gave us our new start. This is a competitive business, but it’s also a supportive business. You have to have these neighboring restaurants and businesses in the River Parishes. We’re competitors, but we work together,” Heidi said.