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Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021

Shababy’s Celebrates A Big Anniversary

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Downtown eatery quickly becomes a big success

Shababy’s Cajun Cooking is celebrating a one-year anniversary downtown of serving up heaping platters of fried Cajun goodness to a legion of appreciative customers. Owners Mandy and Mike moved into their small space at 605 Texas St. during a period when the Caddo Parish Courthouse was still closed due to Covid, and the streets of downtown were quiet and very empty. Even the typically upbeat and positive Mandy wondered if the world would ever get “back to normal.” While still not totally the way it was “before,” Mandy has managed to break through to customers in a way that should have professional marketing managers and ad agencies in awe.

First is the food. It is delicious, hot and made to order. Mandy uses a blend of spices and lemon – no salt – to give her dishes great flavor that mimics salt without the sodium. She and her husband, Mike, know their seafood and are constantly sourcing the very best – shrimp from one particular vendor in South Louisiana, big catfish from Toledo Bend – wherever takes them to the freshest and best. She is also a great, intuitive cook who might decide to whip up a homemade bread pudding with butter rum sauce one day and steamed crab claws the next. If you don’t go by often, you will miss specials that will not appear on her menu and may not make it to Facebook because they sell out so fast.

Next is the attitude. Mandy works the dining room when not herding cats in the tiny kitchen and juggling pots and pans. She never meets a stranger and always has a cute story or fun quip – customers love both her accent and the individual attention.

(After chatting with Mandy, one recent customer actually sent her big jugs of peach cider from Wisconsin as a thanks for a fun night at the restaurant).

Though prices may have to go up and menus change because of the season, Mandy always tries to keep her customers priority #1. For this, their anniversary month, they are running a contest in which each customer in a given week is entered into a drawing at the end of the week for food gifts.

But here’s where it gets really good. Several months ago, Mandy’s social media posts of heaping plates of fried shrimp and fish and happy customers started going viral in a big way. A Nov. 2 post of a tasty lunch order reached 30,000+ people, garnered nearly 3,000 engagements, saw 100 shares and 77 comments. Businesses everywhere could only hope for activity like this for unboosted posts. Mandy tries to respond to each comment, keeps in touch with her customers, responds quickly to their praise and concerns. She has figured it out, and the customers have responded.

When Mandy decided that she wanted to open a downtown restaurant in 2020, her supportive husband, Mike, came grudgingly along, hoping that it would be of short duration and that they might be able to retire to full-time fishing on Toledo Bend. During the early days of the business, as the world had slowed for Covid, it appeared he just might get his wish. It was not to be. Sorry, Mike, you’re out of luck now. We’re keeping her.

We encourage you to try Shababy’s for yourself. They are open Tuesday- Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fridays, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Saturdays, noon-10 p.m. Mandy would like to meet you, and we promise that you will like what she is serving up.

Liz Swaine is the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority. She can be reached at liz@downtownshreveport.com

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