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.
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The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
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The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
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The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
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Queen Evangline and King Gabriel ruled Tuesday night
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
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The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.