Frisco’s Lost Cajun restaurant makes Franchise Times magazine cover
The phone has been ringing almost nonstop for the original Lost Cajun, Raymond Griffin, ever since the 63-year-old fisherman-turned-restaurateur found himself on the cover of this month’s Franchise Times.
In the magazine’s September edition, Griffin, who worked as a fishing guide in Louisiana before moving to Colorado and opening an eatery, was photographed standing in front of Mount Royal in Summit County, where the idea for The Lost Cajun Restaurant was first envisioned.
And the owner and founder gets much of the focus throughout the corresponding nine-page article that, in many ways, reflects just how far his “little restaurant that could” has come since he and his late wife, Belinda Griffin, opened the first one together here in Frisco almost eight years ago.
“For the little, tiny gumbo shop on Main Street to get on the cover (of Franchise Times) is a big deal — we’re pretty proud of it,” Griffin said over the phone Tuesday, having just finished up scouting another restaurant location in North Carolina.
The trade publication combines business news with reporting on trends and legal issues important to the franchising industry, both in the U.S. and overseas.
With the cover story, Griffin joins the ranks of celebrities-turned-entrepreneurs like rock stars Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons from KISS, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and the rapper Pitbull, who’ve all graced the covers of previous editions.
In the article about The Lost Cajun, the author suggests Griffin might be the first person ever to successfully franchise a gumbo-based restaurant chain — mainly because gumbo is so difficult to make. Also, the article’s author largely credits the success of The Lost Cajun chain to a business model that remains “grounded in courtesy and respect.”
“We have figured out how to pair really good food with great, great customer service,” Griffin said of his secret to success. “People walk up to us all the time and we get lots of compliments. … That’s what makes The Lost Cajun work, besides it being a cool name.”
Now the chain that cooks up Louisiana-inspired dishes has 14 stores across multiple states, including Colorado, Texas, South Carolina and Tennessee, and they’re about to start selling a line of spices and ready-made sauces that people can take home and prepare themselves with just a few additions, like water and protein.
Griffin said he never imagined in 2010 that the 15-seat Cajun food restaurant in Frisco would grow into what The Lost Cajun has become today.
“But I’ll tell you what, we’re blessed,” he continued as he explained that based on contracts in the pipeline, leases signed and restaurants currently under construction, he expects to open at least another five locations next year and have about 50 nationwide within the next three years.
According to the founder, that’s because The Lost Cajun recently singed a five-store deal in Houston and inked another three-store agreement in San Antonio, Texas.
There are two stores already in the Denver area, Griffin said, with two more on the way, and they’re in the process of opening two more restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and one more in Amarillo, Texas.
That comes in addition to The Lost Cajun locations already in Pagosa Springs and Fort Collins, and there are discussions about adding another one in Buena Vista.
In comparison to other franchise businesses, The Lost Cajun is only in its infancy, having opened its second location in Breckenridge in 2012 and began making franchise agreements in 2014.
However, the growth has been so rapid, The Lost Cajun now leases a commercial kitchen in Denver where it produces a 500-gallon batch of Lost Cajun gumbo three or four times a week.
Griffin himself recently had to relocate back to Louisiana. He said he wanted to stay here but Frisco’s high altitude was hard on his health.
Still, he said the Frisco restaurant remains one of his top locations, and it’s because of his love for this town, which he said helped him get set up in 2010 and continues to support him and his business today, that he has kept the business’s headquarters here.
As the Lost Cajun continues to grow, Griffin said, it’s likely he will have to move the company’s HQ to a bigger city with a larger workforce, but the corporate office above a local glass-blowing studio in Frisco is something The Lost Cajun plans to keep.
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