It's always been my understanding that owning a small business can be challenging, but opening a local restaurant can be down right formidable! Not only do you generally have to maintain a brick and mortar store front in an area that suits your clientele and put in long hours, you have to predict changing tastes, find and retain engaged employees, deal with menu quality and selection, etc...

It sounds daunting, but I'm sure the sight of a full restaurant, where your community comes together to enjoy each other's company and your culinary creations, would give one some serious personal satisfaction!

The key word is community. Communities have to support small business, including locally owned restaurants, to ensure their area's economic health. It's been proven time and time again that locally owned businesses have a far greater positive impact on their local communities than box stores and chain restaurants. Plus, locally owned small businesses, including restaurants, are what give a town it's 'flavor.'

One thing we're good about in the Ark-La-Tex is community and supporting our own. It wasn't that long ago that Deli Casino in Shreveport was having a hard time keeping their doors open because of the ongoing construction in front of their location. Our community came together to support Deli Casino and as a result, they had locals waiting in lines that went out the door! 

The situation with Deli Casino got local 'community crusader' Emerie Gentry thinking. What would happen if a group of area residents passionate about our community banded together to help support our local restaurants in an organized fashion? I asked Emerie about why she started the 'Lunch Bunch' and here's what she had to say:

I am totally shocked at the outpouring of love for this endeavor! It started with a post I made last week about so many local restaurants closing and that we as a community should put our heads together in order to help out. I slept on it and remembered that in 2016 there was an outcry on social media to go eat at Deli Casino b/c they were falling on hard times. The lines were out the door. So, I decided to do the same, but to do it weekly and to visit various restaurants. I chose Tejas first b/c he was commenting on the original post and several other people commented about how hard he worked to get the place up and going. So, I made a group on FB, a graphic, created the event, and within 6 days, almost 500 people have joined the group and we are hoping to have a good attendance for lunch tomorrow. We will draw for the restaurant that we will visit next week.

The 'he' Emerie is referring to is Weston McElwee , owner of Tejas Kitchen Bar Patio on the corner of Line and Pierremont in Shreveport. Tejas is the site of the first ever 'Lunch Bunch' today from 11am-2:30pm. I asked Weston about having Tejas chosen as the location for the first ever 'Lunch Bunch' and he said he's ,'extremely thankful for all the support!'

Stop by, network, socialize and eat an incredible meal! Let's make sure there's a line out the door this week and every week! Think of it as doing your civic duty!

During the event, Emerie will draw the name of the restaurant the 'Lunch Bunch' will dine at the next week using the highly scientific method of drawing from a selection of Popsicle sticks with local restaurant names on them!

Emerie Gentry

Emerie went on to say:

I love our community! I don't want to move or have any businesses have to move out of the area. We have so much to offer! Shreveport-Bossier is a great place to live, work, and play!

Indeed it is Emerie! I can't wait to break bread today with other people who are passionate about Shreveport/Bossier City. I'll be the one asking for seconds!