Downtown Shreveport’s The Blind Tiger celebrates 30 years

On Thursday, May 26, downtown’s The Blind Tiger Restaurant at 120 Texas Street, turns 30. A restaurant surviving for 30 years is impressive, but even more so now in an era of Covid shutdowns, price spikes and supply chain disasters. The auspicious occasion will be celebrated by staff and owners at the restaurant with a giant birthday cake at 2 pm Thursday, May 26. The event will include general revelry and the telling of stories that may or may not be true.

Here is what we actually DO know to be true. In the 1970s and 80s, two other restaurants occupied the same space at the foot of the Texas Street Bridge, T.G.I.Friday’s and Chelsea’s in the Square. This was during a time when an area known as Shreve Square was cooking, it was ‘the’ place for live music and late night fun. By the early 1990s, the era of the square was over and the restaurant space became vacant. Downtown was sad.

In 1992, the former Chelsea’s was purchased and the space reopened as The Blind Tiger. Employees Rick Sloan and Glenn Brannan, the current owners, were confident the opening would be amazing beyond all expectations. Had expectations been low, they would have been correct. Instead, by all accounts (Rick’s and Glenn’s, mainly), it was incredibly horrible with epic waits and not enough food.  In the wake of those fraught early days, Rick and Glenn honed their menu, bought more food, hired more personnel, and became a go-to location, not only for downtown employees, but for visitors from all over the world. More than one regular customer has called Blind Tiger a ‘textbook example of good management, great food, and stellar staff.’

The numbers tell only a portion of the story, but an impressive one. Since opening, The Blind Tiger has served 4 mil-plus shrimp, 2 mil-plus catfish filets, 150,000 Cajun Sampler plates (Their version of sweep the Cajun kitchen), 135,000 gals of gumbo, 145,000 gals of etouffee, 100,000 pieces of cornbread, 45,000 orders of bread pudding, 400,000 16oz specialty drinks in mason jars, and 40,000 t-shirts. They have given away nearly 900,000 plastic Blind Tiger which have traveled to all 50 states and abroad.

Along the way, they have developed a legion of fans, such as Jeff and Amy Douzat of Lake Charles, who had their first date at Blind Tiger and recently returned to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary. It’s stories like this than let Rick, Glenn and the staff know what they do has made a difference. Restaurant work, as anyone will tell you, is tough. The work is hard and the hours are long, but after 30 years of ups and downs, owner Glenn Brannan is still a fan. “I still love my job, and if you love your job, you never have to work a day in your life.”

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