Reporting record growth, Frisco-based The Lost Cajun cooks through 2018
The Lost Cajun is getting easier and easier to find these days.
Founded in Frisco, the franchise of Cajun food restaurants, including one in Glenwood Springs, reported a nice clip of growth in 2017. However, the franchise is on pace to finish out an even more ambitious year this year, expecting up to 13 new restaurant openings by the end of 2018.
The story of the original Lost Cajun is well-documented in Frisco, where the chain began with an 850-square-foot, hole-in-the-wall restaurant.
“That’s where it all started; Frisco was the original,” said founder and CEO Raymond Griffin, who was driven out of Louisiana by frequent hurricanes and the big oil spill in 2010 to Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
Griffin and his wife Belinda, who died in July 2012, landed in Frisco, where they opened the first Lost Cajun on Main Street in 2010, despite coming into the venture without any experience in the restaurant industry.
“The only thing I knew about a restaurant is that’s where you go to get food,” Griffin recalled of his business’s humble beginnings, adding that it’s been quite a wild ride getting to where The Lost Cajun is today.
Three years after founding the restaurant, Griffin began franchising out his brand of authentic Cajun food and commitment to old-fashioned hospitality. Over the last five years, The Lost Cajun has spread rapidly, adding new restaurants not just in Colorado, but also across much of the South and Southwestern states.
According to the company, The Lost Cajun currently has 20 locations operating in Colorado, Texas, Tennessee and South Carolina with new restaurants either already established or coming soon to Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina; San Antonio, Cypress and Keller, Texas; Greenville, South Carolina; Slidell, Louisiana; Melbourne, Florida; and Westminster, Colorado.
After opening two new locations in 2017, The Lost Cajun is expecting at least 11 more by the end of this year, marking an over 450 percent increase in new openings from 2017-18, according to the company. With recent developments, Griffin said, the number of 2018 restaurants could be as high as 13, and by the end of 2019, he expects to be somewhere in the range of 35-40 restaurants.
With the addition of Westminster, the number of Lost Cajuns in Colorado will grow to eight, including restaurants in Frisco, Breckenridge, Glenwood Springs, Pagosa Springs, Salida, Littleton and Aurora.
The Glenwood location, at 711 Grand Ave., is now under new franchise owner Greg Jones and General Manager Benjamin Williams.
Another store is under contract in Parker, Griffin said, so Colorado should soon have nine.
Growth across Texas, where there are nine Lost Cajuns, has been exceptionally strong as well, and Griffin said he has set his sights on a franchise agreement that could greatly expand The Lost Cajun’s presence in western North Carolina.
“The reason for the growth is we serve great comfort food, but the No. 1 reason is the service,” Griffin said of his secret for success. “We have created what I call, ‘our culture of courtesy and respect.’”
According to Griffin, that means taking care of customers to the point they’re over-served and training restaurant staff to use three phrases all day, every day — please, thank you and you’re welcome.
Griffin also believes The Lost Cajun has found a unique niche in the restaurant industry, as there’s a lot of mom-and-pop Cajun restaurants out there but no one dominant player. Also, it doesn’t hurt when your franchisees are making good money, he added.
“Think of it like this,” Griffin explained of The Lost Cajun’s place in the restaurant industry. “In Frisco, Colorado, if you want Cajun food, where are you going to go?”
Beyond that, The Lost Cajun stands as a true hole-in-the-wall establishment with wooden tables, unique decorations and a playlist of Zydeco music, all of which were born in Frisco. Griffin said that with each new restaurant, they put great effort into making it look like it’s at least a few years old because he doesn’t want it to feel like just another franchise.
Rather, he said every Lost Cajun should have the same charm and down-home feel as the first.