Lafayette has a special place in the heart of the man who gave away more than 80,000 meals after Hurricane Katrina. And he’d like nothing more than to bring his famous charbroiled oysters to town.
Don’t get Tommy Cvitanovich started about Lafayette. He absolutely loves this place. And while he’s tabled plans to expand his famous Drago’s Seafood Restaurant from the New Orleans area to the Hub City, he’s hinting that he’ll likely be back scouting later this summer. “We were looking at a couple of places in the River Ranch area. I love that neighborhood,” Cvitanovich told The Independent Friday morning, noting that expansion is definitely in his future. “If you look at the demographics of the River Ranch area, it is very, very impressive. Although I’m not an expert on demographics, I would bet that there are not many places in Louisiana that have as influential and high-end demographics as River Ranch. The business opportunity is there for us," he says. "Are we going to look again in Lafayette this summer? Very possibly. My goal is to have another restaurant one day, either Baton Rouge, Lafayette and/or Houston.”
Cvitanovich, who runs the two Drago’s locations — the original in Metairie and the now 5-year-old location in the Hilton on Poydras — says the main reason he backed away is to devote more time to the Hilton restaurant. “My customers ... I want to make sure everything is handled properly. The Hilton is kind of growing a little too fast for us," he says. "I want to make sure we stay on top of our game.”
There's a personal reason as well. The father of four, Cvitanovich says quality of life with his family is high on his list of priorities, and he does not want to spread himself too thin. He also wants to be sure he makes the right move at the right time.
Clearly, however, Lafayette appears to have the edge. “We didn’t pick another area over [Lafayette],” Cvitanovich stresses. “When we do start looking again, that region will be a priority for us.
“It doesn’t matter if you go into a Burger King, a fast food restaurant or a fine dining restaurant in Lafayette, everybody is nice. I just like Lafayette. In being one of the people in the [Louisiana] restaurant association, one of the higher ups in the association in the last few years, we’ve gone to Lafayette, and every single time I’ve gone there I’ve had a great experience."
Cvitanovich says he has a lot of Lafayette customers and some really good friends here as well. “What really spurred my interest, too, was when I was in Washington, D.C. I was king of the Washington Mardi Gras Ball this year, and I met your mayor and I met some of your chamber people. They’re the ones that really got me to go and look and touch and feel and taste that area,” he continues.
Drago’s was founded in 1969 by Cvitanovich’s parents, Drago and Klara Cvitanovich. Drago is now retired and Klara is still helping run the restaurants.
Though Drago's offers a full seafood menu, charbroiled oysters are what it's most famous for. But those didn’t hit the menu until 1993 when Tommy, a chef, decided to experiment with a sauce of garlic, butter and herbs. He brushed the sauce on a fresh batch of oysters, dusted them with a blend of Parmesan and Romano cheese and cooked them in their shell on a hot grill. Simply delicious.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The continued refusal by LPSB President Hunter Beasley and attorney Dennis Blunt to release a draft copy of the investigation into Superintendent Pat Cooper has resulted in a lawsuit by The Daily Advertiser.
The New Orleans Saints' early season slide is the kind of scenario Sean Payton had in mind when the coach and his staff placed a premium on character during player evaluations.
Long before a man was diagnosed with the Ebola virus in neighboring Texas, Louisiana's health department was working on what to do in case someone with the disease showed up in the state.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Women sue over sperm mix-up; Romney on campaign trail; Ebola patient was released from hospital and more national and international news for Thursday, October 02, 2014.
State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, surprised few in the Hub City Wednesday afternoon when he made (semi) official what most of us have known for months: He is running to replace Joey Durel as city-parish president.
Two bedroom town home or three bedroom contemporary home
Let the party begin
Louisiana's first black Republican state senator since Reconstruction — who was a Republican before he was a Democrat before he was a Republican again — is accusing Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of using the black community for votes and providing nothing in return.
LSU's governing board has backed new hospital privatization contracts that give hospital managers greater ease to leave the deal and fewer restrictions about must-have services.
Rachel Hector returns home to cultivate a generation of yoga instructors.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is courting young voters in several appearances across Louisiana this week, talking about her support for legislation that could lower students' college costs.
It is distinctly possible control of the U.S. Senate will hinge on Louisiana, which is why, during the last several months, outside groups have made this the most expensive election in Louisiana history.
A constellation of South Louisiana musical stars descends on Parc Sans Souci to honor an ailing David Egan.
INDStyle Awards 2014 was one for the books; the American Cancer Society took over The Victorian's big tent; and the battle of the sexes was alive and well for Walk a Runway's Christmas fundraiser.
The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra teams up with choreographer Clare Cook for a modern take on a Stravinsky classic.
Local food pantries begin seasonal drives
A girl's best fashion friend
Stage 4 vet takes on cancer and reminds us all what it really means to get involved.
Creative living flourishes at Downtown’s artist hub.
Four bedroom cottage or four bedroom traditional
Bold looks for fall define INDStyle Awards 2014
Statement pieces for the season
The gents venture out
Project Front Yard has been launched to help us change our image and our habits.
Alleged victim is a Navy vet with brain trauma resulting from a car accident three decades ago.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Richard Buswell was sentenced Tuesday to more than 10 years in prison for his role in an investment scheme that defrauded his clients of more than $6 million.