Inside the 610 loop of Houston, TX, in 1974 a small, po-boy only restaurant named “Ray Hay’s Cajun Po-Boys” opened up at 4302 Richmond Ave. to young owners Luke B. Mandola Sr., Frankie B Mandola, and Ray Hay. Ray Hay’s Cajun Po-Boys brought Houstonians authentic po-boy 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 Po-Boys was “A hit from the time the doors opened.” – Luke B. 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 Po-Boys started serving fresh Louisiana boiled crawfish right out of the little restaurant, becoming the first in Houston to do so.
Luke B. 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 Po-Boys was now Ragin’ Cajun, named for the University of Lafayette Louisiana “Ragin’ Cajuns”, where Luke B. Mandola Sr. graduated from in 1972.
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.
During the 2000’s, Luke Sr. and Frank teamed up with Mandola’s sons Luke Jr. and Dominic to expand the Ragin’ Cajun concept. Luke Jr. and Dominic had locations in the Westchase District, Downtown Tunnels, Sugar Land, TX and The Woodlands, TX. In 2007, Frank Messina retired to Lake Arthur, LA., where he still resides to this day, enjoying the sweet Cajun lifestyle.
The Ragin’ Cajun is now a very recognized name in 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. Luke Sr. and son Dominic carry on the Ragin’ Cajun name and rich family tradition of spreading love to Houston through their food.