|Walk-On’s Brandon Landry, manager Tony Caballero and Jack Warner|
Two former LSU basketball players enter Lafayette’s sports bar scene. By Anna Purdy
Most stories that begin with bar napkin scrawls are used to wipe tears away. This one started a decade-long, multi-million dollar company.
Jack Warner and Brandon Landry were 23 and 22 years old, respectively, and on their way back from an LSU basketball game (where they were walk-ons, natch) when they had an idea. Despite neither having a background in the service industry, they began to draw up plans for a bar, the kind Tiger jocks like themselves would adore. To educate themselves on the tawdry tales of service industry life, they went to work at several different bars and restaurants around Baton Rouge, from Chimes to Mellow Mushroom. Landry says they worked as bartenders, barbacks, servers, in the kitchen, and every job you can imagine in both back-of-house and front-of-house except management.
Little did they know that management experience would come from quickly opening eight venues in under 10 years. After securing property investors, it took another year before André Fruge of Louisiana Capital Certified Development, a private/non-profit corporation that markets and facilitates the SBA 504 loan program, agreed to help them secure financing. Now under the mantle of their partnership company, Last In Concepts, they have opened The Roux House, Happy’s Irish Pub, Schlittz and Giggles, and Walk-On’s — which they just expanded to Lafayette.
Located on Kaliste Saloom Road near Randol’s, Walk-On’s Bistreaux and Bar is spacious and bright and playing every song you remember from every ’80s movie imaginable. If you love sports then this is your spot. Since it was created by two avid sports fans and players, there are flatscreen televisions truly anywhere you look and they are married to the most important game playing that hour.
ABiz gave the partnership’s first venture into Lafayette a try on a busy day during its first week.
We tried the ahi tuna salad, which was enough for three people. Fresh mixed greens with thick slices of ahi tuna — cooked appropriately! — spiraling out from the center, pointing at the avocados, the whisper-thin slices of red onion, and bits of carrot and toasted sesame seeds then everything drizzled with its Asian sesame glaze that has a bright ginger taste.
Next was the Jack Burger, named after founder Warner. First off, know that it is served to you with a steak knife plunged into its meaty heart to keep it all together. The bun is brushed with butter and lightly toasted. Then comes the pound of Angus beef in the form of two patties, each with its own helping of cheese, fried shoestring onions and bacon. Vegetables make a cameo appearance at the top of the burger in the form of shredded iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato. It’s the kind of burger that you cannot eat without visions of Homer Simpson mumuring “mmmmmburger” slouching through your head. This item is the newest addition to Walk-On’s carnivorous selections and is so far exclusive to Lafayette. We tried two appetizers, Angels on Horseback and Onion Mountain. The latter is...well, it’s a platter piled with fried shoestring onions. The former is a large shrimp, more of a prawn, sliced and stuffed with an oyster then wrapped up in applewood smoked bacon before being battered and fried. When it arrives you think you’ve order four chicken wings from a monstrously sized bird. You haven’t. Those are a meal in and of themselves.
The actual bar in Walk-On’s is enormous. Rimmed with flatscreens, sports paraphernalia from both LSU and UL Lafayette and overflowing with choices of beer, there is a third of its total 47 televisions around the bar and 50 beers on tap. Landry asks that when you come in and you don’t see your favorite brew to suggest it to the management — it has room for 25 more beers to tap into. Private parties can be booked for the patio or separate banquet room.