Inside the 610 loop of Houston, TX, in 1974 a small, poboy only restaurant named “Ray Hay’s Cajun Poboys” opened up at 4302 Richmond Ave. to young owners Luke Mandola Sr., Frankie B Mandola, and Ray Hay. Ray Hay’s Cajun Poboys brought Houstonians authentic poboy sandwiches straight from the bayou country. With the oil boom of the 1980’s more and more Louisiana descendants migrated to Houston. Homesick for Cajun flavors and wanting to connect with their roots, Ray Hay’s Cajun Poboys was “A hit from the time the doors opened.”- Luke Mandola Sr.
In 1976 the trio introduced Houston to crawfish boils in the parking lot. These crawfish boils created a springtime tradition for friends and family. The boils were such a success, Ray Hay’s Cajun Poboys started serving Fresh Louisiana Boiled Crawfish right out of the little restaurant, becoming the first in Houston to do so.
Luke Mandola Sr. partnered with Frank Messina to buy out Frankie B. Mandola and Ray Hay in 1981. With this change, also came the change of the name- Ray Hay’s Cajun Poboys was now Ragin Cajun Seafood, named for University of Southwestern Louisiana “Ragin’ Cajuns”, where Luke Mandola Sr. graduated from in 1974.
Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s Ragin Cajun gained a reputation for having high quality Cajun Cuisine and the best Boiled Crawfish in the city. Frank and Luke Sr. turned the Ragin Cajun into a well-known Cajun institution. Customers have been known to drive 100 plus miles to enjoy the exceptional taste of our spicy crawfish.
In the year 2000 Luke Sr. and Frank teamed up with Mandola’s sons Luke Jr. and Dominic to expand the Ragin Cajun concept. In May of the same year Ragin Cajun opened another location on the west side of Houston, on Westheimer Road in Woodlake Square. The new location offered an 80 ft. oyster bar and New Orleans-style patio. Two years later Ragin Cajun in the Downtown Tunnel opened its doors to Houston’s business professionals working in the downtown area, and expanded yet again in 2004 to the suburbs of Sugar Land, TX.
The Ragin’ Cajun is now a very recognized name around both Texas and the United States. It has been featured in People magazine, on NBC Dateline, the Food Network, and other various television and radio shows. In 2007, Frank Messina retired to Lake Arthur, LA., where he still resides to this day, enjoying the sweet Cajun lifestyle. Luke Sr. and son Dominic carry on the Ragin Cajun name and rich family tradition of spreading love to Houston through their food.