The Net Exclusive Feature
Story by AshMarie Boyd
Photos by Elroy Johnson IV
The first time I stepped foot in The Daiquiri Shoppe it smelled like my Cajun grandmother’s kitchen on a Sunday afternoon and felt like Nawlins on a Friday night. Nearly every seat was taken. The order line had several dozen people and the place was jamming. The DJ had a flow of old school, new school and bounce music poppin’ like we were somewhere in the 504 not Grand Prairie, TX.
The Shoppe, as the owners affectionately call it, is a getaway for its patrons. It’s authentic Cajun food without the fuss, it’s a party without the overpriced door cover and it’s a good time – guaranteed.
The Daiquiri Shoppe I and II are New Orleans themed specialty sports bars. The owners are childhood friends from Louisiana who have created an atmosphere in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex where “Laissez le bons temps rouler” or the good times roll. They specialize in a range of frozen daiquiris, offering authentic Cajun food and the ambience is reminiscent of “back home.” If you’re looking for somewhere to get the weekend started or you need to grab a quick drink to wind down, we know just the spot!
I recently sat down with the New Orleans natives to talk business, culture and all things Louisiana*. DeSean Cagnolatti, Keith Cryer and Theophilus Bias are Louisiana natives who met in middle school and graduated from high school together in the 80’s in New Orleans. When you get all three men in one room, you can tell the years have replaced friendship with brotherhood. Each personality stood out but together the trio operates like a well-oiled machine.
The story goes that Bias and Cryer, who are best friends, moved to Texas to establish roots and focus on a career that they would both love. A few years would pass and their childhood friend, Cagnolatti, would join them in the Lone Star State to open a business.
City Love and Culture.
AB: Why did you choose to open a daiquiri shop?
Cagnolatti: I would let Theo answer that. That’s his baby.
Bias: It was my dream to always own a daiquiri shop in Louisiana. We would always go home and come back with daiquiris. Daiquiris originated in New Orleans. It started at home, so we definitely know how it should taste.
Cagnolatti: We were the new kids on the block in 2012. We saw an opportunity to showcase who we are, our culture and what we loved as a business. It just made sense. We were the first to sell daiquiris in the way that they are sold now. There’s been competition but we try to be as authentic to the brand as what it is.
Bias: “DeSean had just moved back into town and when he called me up,” Bias said. “ I told him that me and Keith was over by my house and he came over. When we asked him what brought him to Texas, he says ‘I want go into business here.’ So, I asked what kind of business and he said ‘A Daiquiri Shoppe’. I looked over at Keith and I said ‘You hear that, Keith?’ Keith says ‘I’m listening.’ Two weeks later, we got started.”
Cagnolatti: That was in November of 2011
Cryer: We opened December 22, 2012.
Cagnolatti: And we’ve been rocking ever since.
It’s a Family Business.
AB: I’ve noticed that there are quite a few employees that look like you all running around. I take it that they’re your children?
Cagnolatti: This is a business that we’ll leave to our children and their children. All of our children work here. The only child of ours that isn’t employed with us is ten… and she would if she could.
Cryer: A few of our children that live back home sub in for us when they come to visit. They just jump right in like they’ve been here the whole time. Our wives, Dionne, Jil and Rhonda, even come up here to help us out.
(Hey Dionne, Jil and Rhonda!)
Cryer: We stay here and roll up our sleeves, if need be. But it’s our employees that keeps the ball rolling. Anywhere in Louisiana that you go, they treat you like family. That’s what we want our atmosphere to embody.
AB: On the rare occasion that you all have free time, what do you like to do?
Cagnolatti: I like to research and go to other establishments. I like to see and know how others run and do business.
Cagnolatti: Can I answer for Theo? He likes soul food. He looks up places, sends visits and critiques them. Wanna know if something is good? Ask Theo.
Bias: I’ve tried Miss Mary’s, South Dallas Cafe, Chef Point and Pioneer Cafe.
Cryer: He’s tried ‘em all.
AB: What about [your favorite place]in Louisiana?
Bias: Oh, you don’t have a sheet large enough. Triangles, Manchu Chicken, Chinese Kitchen, Hender Soul Food.
(conversation goes left, and we start talking about Cajun food)
AB: What’s your favorite part of The Shoppe?
Cagnolatti: Mine is the customer aspect. Just walking in the front door and meeting and greeting everyone. Also, crunching numbers to see where we can be better and how we can improve.
Cryer: My favorite part is seeing the faces of our customers light up when they try our daiquiris. We’re salesman, but we’re also therapists, in a way. They might have had a bad day but when they walk through the door, they won’t stay like that.
Bias: I like to hear the comments from our customers about our food. I’m hardcore on the food to make sure it’s right. Food is like a joy to everyone. It makes people happy.
AB: Where do you see The Daiquiri Shoppe in the near future?
Bias: People have told us what we should sell and do but we can’t do everything. You can get Mexican food anywhere. You can get Barbecue anywhere in Texas. Where can you get New Orleans style street food? Looking for a hot sausage Po’ Boy sandwich and a Big Shot? We gotcha!
Cagnolatti: We’re trying to expand as soon as the business allows us to. The lines are long but we’re always looking to expand. We’ve been blessed by God to slow us down when we get ahead of ourselves.
Cryer: We don’t work hard to be who we are. Louisiana is who we are. We just have to be true to the brand. This is us. We do and make and drink that feels good to us. If we stay true to ourselves, the culture will always be there.
Bias: We don’t just cater to the Louisiana native. But we want everyone that walks through our doors to feel like they’re home. We want you to feel that vibe and think “This is New Orleans.”
In an effort to truly celebrate the culture and vibrancy that exists in cities, The City Influencer is on a mission to highlight the businesses that not only serve as a source of pride for our community, but also function as a robust financial engine for the local economy as well. Interested in a business spotlight? Contact us HERE.
Join us on June 21st for the official launch of The Net, a monthly business social club for entrepreneurs, creatives and small business owners of color.
To RSVP visit: thenetdallas.com.
*Interviews have been edited for length