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Orlandeaux’s Café – For The Culture

Growing up, Friday was the day me and my mom ate out. She cooked dinner at home Saturday-Thursday, but Fridays were our day to hit up a restaurant. I remember us going to Freeman & Harris and picking up a to-go order of chicken fried steak for my mom and half a dozen of fried shrimp for me. It was always a half a dozen fried shrimp for me until I became a teenager. That was the ONLY thing my mom would let me order. I could never get a dozen, nor could I get a stuffed shrimp. It was always those six perfectly fried, golden, crusty shrimp and tartar sauce.

When I became a teenager, my mom upped my selections and I could either stick with the half a dozen shrimp or I could get the gumbo. I couldn’t have both. I had to pick one or another. Now I’ve always been a plus size girl so what exactly did my mom think those six shrimp and fries were doing for me? I needed the other six to make it a dozen, but alas that never happened. I started opting for the gumbo because I could get a big cup of it and it was EVERLASTING. LIFE. Amen. I remember sitting on the floor in my bedroom with my back against my bed frame, removing the clear plastic lid off the gumbo and enjoying the shrimp, gumbo crab, chicken AND bones included, the dark well seasoned roux, sausage, and all of the deliciousness. My stomach would be filled, I would have a smile on my face, and I would reflect on God’s love for me. Adulthood brought my own money and I decided to “rebel” a bit. My first visit to Pete Harris Café, a branch of Freeman & Harris tree, I ordered a dozen of fried shrimp, a stuffed shrimp, and a cup of gumbo. Take that Mama! I can order WHATEVER I WANT! I don’t think I was able to eat everything I ordered, but I sure had fun trying. My first time trying a Shreveport style stuffed shrimp was the moment I was hooked forever.

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Through the years after Pete Harris Cafe’ closed, I would visit Brother’s Seafood, another branch of the Freeman & Harris tree owned by Chef Orlando Chapman, and my order changed up a bit. I started exploring the menu more and decided that my mom was right about what to order. My go-to order became the chicken fried steak with fries, gravy on the side with one stuffed shrimp. For me that order was the best of all my childhood nostalgia. I still had a fried shrimp, but it had some extra stuff with it and then there was my mama’s favorite meal because she is always with me even when she is at her house.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 shook our community with the passing of Chef Orlando Chapman. What would happen to the restaurant? What would happen to his family? Who would continue on the legacy? The restaurant reopened after Chapman’s death, but it was not the same. Service often hit an all time low, the food was not the same quality, and eventually the doors closed for good under the Brother’s Seafood name. That closing would not be the end of the legacy though. The next torch bearer had been waiting in the wings for his final push and a word from God.

“I remember one day during my senior year in college, my bishop spoke about when your family has roots in something, then you are the fruit of that tree and you might as well let your seed grow. That was my confirmation to let me know that taking over the restaurant business was my purpose. When God speaks to you, you really have to listen. It breaks my heart that I didn’t move and act on it then, but I wanted to do it when I wanted to do it. God was like ‘Nah. Nah. I’m going to force you back to Shreveport” said Damien Lewis Chapman, son of Chef Orlando Chapman.

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Chapman was pursuing his career in engineering before his father’s death. Now he is back in Shreveport and is devoting all of his time and energy into the opening of Orlandeaux’s Café (housed in the former Brother’s Seafood) named in honor of his father with a Creole twist of his name. Chapman is quick to pull out his receipts of “eaux” being French and doesn’t belong to the Cajuns only nor does it only belong to South Louisiana. His creole pride runs through and through from having a Creole flag on the wall in Orlandeaux’s to him being able to trace his family back to the Cane River area of Louisiana where almost everyone is probably his cousin. He knows his lineage back and forth and can rattle off names of families that are connected to his, he knows the traditions, and he has protected the recipes.

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I had the privilege of being able to have lunch with him last week and it was everything I remembered and more. Damien served me MY meal without even having to ask for it. He started with a bowl of gumbo that took me back to sitting on my bedroom floor. At one point I thought I was going to cry just from the memories rushing back. He has removed the bones out of the chicken, but it is still just as delicious. My favorite blogger, Chris Jay, agrees about the deliciousness of the gumbo. Check it out.

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Damien then brought out the most beautiful chicken fried steak and fries with sauteed onions and bell peppers on top with gravy on the side and two stuffed shrimp. Do y’all remember that Freeman & Harris and Pete Harris toast? IT IS BACK! Gumbo was on point! Chicken fried steak was on point! Stuffed shrimp and tartar sauce were on point! GOOD LORDT this was good!

In addition to the food being back and better, the inside of the building has received a much needed facelift. It doesn’t even look like the old restaurant. What was once a wall and an area for to-go orders is now a bar that will have signature cocktails and local craft beer on tap. What I appreciated most about the bar is there are outlets to charge your phone and purse hooks. YES! Damien gets the women and our needs!

I asked Damien a series of questions from my Facebook page. The main question that came about was the quality of service that we can expect from Orlandeaux’s. Service is the main thing that Damien is concerned about. He knows what it was and he knows what he needs and wants it to be. For him, it is all about continuing and restoring his legacy and the culture. The name is for the culture. The recipes are for the culture. The service will be for the culture. The stories are for the culture. Orlandeaux’s Cafe’ is for the culture.

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Stay tuned to Loving This Life Jada on Facebook for the official opening date of Orlandeaux’s Café.

What is your favorite Freeman & Harris or Brother’s Cafe’ memory?

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7 Comments

  • Judy Williams May 15, 2018 09.55 am

    This brought me back to the original Freeman & Harris and all its later iterations. I loved the gumbo, too, though my very favorite was smothered chicken livers. Pete was such a wonderful community neighbor. He was always so kind to me. Once I brought the Grambling band in for an event but didn’t have the money to feed them lunch. Pete just told me to come by and pick up fried chicken boxed lunches for them all, free of charge. We would have meetings in his basement and he would send down a platter of fried chicken. He never met a stranger, and I am so glad to know the legacy continues!

     
    • Jada May 15, 2018 10.03 am

      What wonderful memories Judy?! Fried chicken livers are my absolute favorite! I just had some from C&C the other day and I told Damien about it and he made a grossed out face. Pete NEVER met a stranger. He was a great.

       
  • Crystal Wagoner May 15, 2018 11.06 am

    I can’t wait!! You introduced me to Pete Harris AND Brother’s and my life hasn’t been complete without them!

     
    • Jada May 15, 2018 11.28 am

      Aww boo boo! It is going to be great!

       
  • Norma Dermenjian May 15, 2018 04.44 pm

    Judy, Judy, Judy! I tell people that have two memory deposit’s. a front and a back The back needs a nudge. You said “box” and it opened up the back memory. The chicken and fries in that box was outstanding. We were a large family and did not get this often, so it was a real treat even if we had to share. I always thought it was the box that gave it the extra flavor. When I got old enough to date (17 almost 18) I wanted the fried shrimp with extra sauce. My boyfriend had a job and would buy them for me. Jada, I was like you I wanted a dozen.

    My first husband turned me on to the lunch specials and pie to die for. If you didn’t get there early you missed out on the pie at lunch. White people would come for lunch, but not in the evening because it was located in the”bottom”.

    There were no fast food places back then so this was the only place for Blacks to get food to go other than Silver Moon Bar-B-Que. The dinning room was very small. Most of his business was to go. There was a room downstairs where banquets could be held.

    Thanks Jada, the article was very good and the memories were wonderful. I will be watching for the opening of Orlandeaux’s Cafe and make a trip to Shreveport.

    White

    After I left home anytime that I came back I had to go to Freeman and Harris. Then they closed and became Brother’s, then the place under the levi but they never lived up to the original.

     
  • Latrunda May 26, 2018 04.23 pm

    I had no idea that Brother’s had closed down. I remember vividly the day that Mr. Orlando had passed and it was such a tragedy. I grew up in Allendale and loved going to Freeman and Harris as a child. The owners were so wonderful and my family were regulars. I loved that Pete and Harris as well as Brother’s both were able to emulate the same taste as Freeman and Harris. I just wished the service would have been of the same quality. I look forward to checking out Orldandeaux’s when I return home for a visit.

     
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About Me

Hi I'm Jada! I'm a blogger and freelance writer. I love all things related to travel, food, and entertainment.

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