Serving up success at Rye Canteen

Luling man just wants people to eat at his restaurant and be happy

After years of running businesses for others, Barrett Roberts decided to give up sitting behind a desk and do something he’s always wanted to do – open his own restaurant.

It’s called Rye Canteen, located where the former Pierre’s Restaurant bar and Grill, as well as former Sailfish Food and Spirits, was in Luling.

While others did not succeed here, Roberts is bringing considerable management and operation experience to his dream and first business.

“When I graduated from college, I went work as an accountant for St. Charles Parish and did that for four years and then spent about six years doing commercial HVAC for a private company,” he said. Also, Roberts’ parents owned the Smoothie King in Luling and he grew up helping with their business.Starting a restaurant seems like a cosmic leap for a man who graduated with a degree in international finance and experience in running other people’s businesses.

But Roberts said the timing was right for “me, my wife and everything” to make his move and one where he was determined to do everything right from look to taste.

“We wanted a fresh, modern look,” Roberts said of the interior with etched glass and contemporary lamp shades. Aided by his wife, Adrienne, the couple sought to design a warm, welcoming setting that also would become part of their brand of new sandwiches, fresh salads and some local specialty items that would appeal to patrons.

“I realized I had a little more potential with the kitchen, a giant bar and I decided to keep all the sandwiches, but add a few more things. That’s when we started working on the salads, which have been really popular, as well.”

When it comes to the menu, Roberts delights in serving up an eclectic mix of novel dishes, along with some standard local specialties, that appeal to nearly any palette. And, he doesn’t just want novelty, but he also wants quality to be his restaurant’s hallmark.

“I was a firm believer that if I was going to do it, I would do it good,” he said of getting the thick rye bread for the Reuben from New York City. He also roasts chickens every morning and the roast beef is prepared in-house. Salads can come with fresh fruit.

And for the record, the Reuben’s popularity came as a surprise to Robert, but a delightful one.He’s equally pleased to have seen demand for his signature item – the “Big Bout-it” with hot roast beef, pepper jack cheese, jalapenos and French fries cooked on a Panini press.

“That’s all I ever wanted for my food – for people to enjoy it,” Roberts said. “And if I can make some money along the way, that would be great, as well.”

When perusing the menu, the eye might get fixated on one of Roberts’ creations that he lovingly calls the Jambalaya Po-boy.

It’s really the meats meant for the dish that end up on the bread topped with a thick gravy and cheese.

The test batch went so fast he’s already smoking the pork to make more of the sandwiches.

This is the kind of stuff that Roberts wants to make a name for at his restaurant, which is an outlet for his passion for cooking and creating. He’s a member of the Coastal Conservation Association and captain of its cooking team, which has allowed him to cook for events like Battle for the Paddle.

“It’s something I’ve done my whole life, but I’ve gotten more serious into it with a full kitchen and bunch of toys to play with,” he said. “I have the time to experiment with it now.”

Roberts said it feels good to be as busy as they’ve been in their soft opening. A grand opening is in the works for January.

As a native and resident of Luling, the area was a logical location for Roberts to start his business.

“I know plenty of people here and they know me,” he said. “Also, I just know the potential and there is money to be spent in this town, and probably a lot more shortly with a lot of corporate expansion within the chemical plants.”

Roberts concedes a restaurant can be challenging venture, but he also mused, “It can be a tough business, but it’s my dream if it works.”

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