“Tommy Walters, a native of Lafayette, La., has been working in the restaurant business most of his life. At the age of ten he was working in his father’s restaurant, washing dishes, peeling shrimp, scaling flounder and doing a little bit of everything. Walters’ father was the noted Cajun chef Roland Walters. His father’s restaurant entrepreneurship and passion for food clearly influenced Tommy, who has been in some version of the food business ever since.
In the early ’90s, Tommy opened Furlongs in the building on the corner of East Main and Ashland Avenue. Prior to that, the location had housed various restaurants, including the Stirrup Cup, Celebrities, and Halls on East Main. The location proved to be a great fit for Furlongs, and he operated the restaurant there until spring of 2004. Due to lease issues and the opportunity to move to a bigger location, he left the East Main building and moved to South Broadway in the old Coach House location. For a few years, he also operated Furlongs on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville, winning one of the city’s “Best New Restaurants” awards. However neither of these locations was quite the same, or the right fit in the way that his original location was. Combining patience, persistence and his passion for the Furlong’s concept, he was finally able to return to his original location and re-opened just recently.
His partner in the venture, Charles Verrette, is a native of Mamou, La., and spent weekends at the home of his grandparents, Onezime and EnaBelle Vidrine. It was through these and other experiences that he absorbed the Cajun culinary culture. He also learned important Cajun traditions from his parents, Burke and Mary Verrette.
Furlongs bills itself as “Food With Character,” and its sign has the image of a jockey riding a shrimp. This logo was designed by Nick Martinez, a jockey turned artist. He developed several ideas for a Furlongs logo, but when Tommy saw that one, he immediately knew it was right for the concept.
The concept is Cajun influenced, but the menu has plenty of variety to satisfy non Cajun or mainstream tastes. This is a great menu and will have you coming back again and again, not just for a favorite dish but to try the many interesting and mouthwatering options. The appetizers have both local traditional items such as fried banana peppers and Cajun items such as crabmeat au gratin and grilled andouille. The seafood lineup includes both fried and broiled items such a catfish, froglegs, and shrimp. There are also chicken, steak, ribs, and pasta entrees. However, I think the strength of their menu is in their section call “Our Specialties.” Here you will find some signature items that you are not going to find anywhere else in town. Their main specialty entré is mignon ecrivesse, which is a nine-ounce filet topped with crawfish etoufee. And if you are really in the mood for crawfish there is the crawfish extravaganza, which has a combination of crawfish items. For kids, there is a children’s menu, and dessert choices include the classic Louisiana treat beignets. In addition to the dining room, there is a bar area with a bar menu that includes a selection of po-boy sandwiches and other items. In the front of the restaurant, there is also a small patio area.
Horse racing fans know a furlong is an eighth of a mile. However, food lovers will soon know that Furlongs is a great local independent restaurant that serves good food and good times. The restaurant is open for dinner beginning at 4:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. They will also cater your party or special event. Once they get this location established again, I think you may see additional Furlongs and/or offshoot concepts in the future. Giddy up!