Inspired by our French Creole ancestry, the Caribana Cuisine section of our menu reflects culinary influence from France, The Caribbean Islands, and Louisiana.
Hence the name, Caribiana Cuisine, our ancestors are French Creoles that came from France in the early 1700s and settled in the French West Indies. After their arrival, they migrated to Louisiana and settled in the Bayou areas outside of New Orleans.
My husband Chef Angel and I always wanted our own restaurant. We’ve been in the restaurant business for over 25 years making it work creating, producing, turning things around for profit, and giving it all. We have two beautiful daughters, our almost twelve-year-old Gaby and ten-year-old Angelle whom we love with all of our hearts and always want to provide and be great role models for them and one day, leave something for them. Our oldest daughter Gaby is special needs and requires a lot so having our own restaurant would not only help us but will help her blossom and learn at her own pace and give me more time and flexibility with my schedule to go to all of her different therapies, doctors appointment, focused learning and train her with hands-on life skills. It is sometimes very difficult for people with special needs to get opportunities so we can prepare her. "The American Dream.
We couldn’t get the loans etc that we needed so we took our life savings, our retirement, and used it and our home as collateral for our business. Skeptical and scared that we are putting everything on the line, my husband Angel, the praying man that he is, reminded me once again why we were doing this and that we are great at turning restaurants around and have what it takes plus if we don’t believe in our dream and our abilities, who will? As a mother, I started worrying about our children, Angelle seemed to bounce bag easily but Gaby. Gaby is a creature of habit and routine and has gone through so much…oh how this would affect her, I thought.
After looking for the right location, we found our current location, The Bullfish. 4001 Nicholson Dr. Ste D. Baton Rouge, La. 70808 in the hotel plus near Louisiana State University(College town.) We faced many challenges but were committed to giving it 110% In 2019 things started slow so we knew that production and execution is going to be important. The chef handled all the food etc so I handle all other Operational aspects. One day, we came from church and we had people waiting in front of the business waiting for the doors to open so we looked at each other and smiled and thanked God, and said, “we realized that we made the right decision!” Things were going well and then COVID. Coronavirus hit and changed everything.
Due to COVID, all dining rooms were closed so it was takeout only. It became a ghost town. Paid promotions on Social Media for curbside pickup were not working, nothing was working. I would call the restaurant phone to see if it was working because it would never ring. I started worrying…we were going to lose everything plus what are we going to do? One day, we got home, and my then 8-year-old daughter Angelle wrote a note telling us how she saw how hard we were working and how the restaurant was slow so we wanted us to help by giving us all of her life savings of $57. Oh how that broke me…I probably used most of my tears because I thought I was hiding it so well. I used the restaurant for home schooling, my girl, since schools were closed. I was afraid that due to my daughter Gaby’s Immunocompromised state I was putting her at risk if only one person walked into the restaurant and had COVID. My biggest decision was, do I close the restaurant and lose everything or do I put our daughters' life at risk? I didn’t like this decision or choice that I would have to make.
No money is coming in, builds are piling up, what do we do? We didn’t get the PPP because it ran out of money the first time so we applied for every program. There were so many kind-hearted people who wanted us to succeed so we are thankful to them! We later got the SBA Small Business Loan that also helped but we were not in the clear. Even though we were in deep deep water, we were no longer gasping for air. We couldn’t swim yet, though. How are we going to pivot out of this situation?
Now that things are opening back up, we are at a pivotal point. Even though we haven’t received much assistance from the current programs being offered to restaurants. We have to do what it takes to get people in our restaurant so we can continue existing as a small business and providing delicious and authentic food to you and help our family.