Meet the man with a heart of gold who’s serving proper Cajun crawfish in Needville
NEEDVILLE, Texas – In Houston, crawfish is serious business. While everyone has their favorite standby, the community of Needville knows where to go when the season starts – Bayou Boys. The restaurant is well known for their stellar Cajun offerings, chief among them crawfish, but what many don’t know is the redemption story behind the business. Owner and operator Joel Barrios originally hails from Lafourche Parish, also known as “Down the Bayou.” According to Barrios, he opened Bayou Boys due to a need in the area for proper Louisiana crawfish.
“Never ever should you have to sprinkle a crawfish with seasoning on the outside of it. That’s cheating,” said Barrios.
In addition to crawfish, Bayou Boys offers a smattering of classic Cajun cuisine including boudin, gumbo, etouffee and po’ boys. But, some of the favorite dishes on the menu are Barrios’ unique creations like the addictive Swamp Fries and Swamp Balls.
“I’m just a fat kid that likes to eat,” laughed Barrios. “I just paid attention whenever my grandparents and parents are in the kitchen cooking.”
Many patrons have come to know Barrios well – not only because they keep coming back, but because Barrios makes it a point to establish a connection with every diner.
“Just bein’ out on the floor, and shakin’ hands and lettin’ people know who you are…My cell phone number is on the sign out front of the business. That’s not a telephone number to the front desk – that goes to my cell phone,” said Barrios.
Before starting the business, Barrios was in the oil and gas industry and fighting a long battle with alcohol addiction.
“You wake up the next morning, and you kinda realize what a jerk you were to friends and family,” said Barrios. “It’s been a blessing to be able to put that chapter behind me, and start maturing and become not only a better family member but also a person that gives back…Somebody that’s productive in the community.”
Deciding to turn a new leaf, Barrios cashed in his 401(k) and put all he had into opening Bayou Boys. What’s more, he made it a point to give back to the town of Needville in every way possible.
“We have almost a platform to be able to give back in a way that can make a difference,” said Barrios. “We feed all first responders 50% off their meal…Help raise funds for school projects, help a benefit for a family member that’s going through a tough time.”
One of the unique ways Barrios gives back is through a program dubbed “Bayou Buckaroos” in which the restaurant hosts free birthday parties for families that are unable to afford a party for their child. The venue, food and birthday cake are all taken care of by Barrios.
“I really enjoy the opportunity to give back to those people and feed ‘em. It’s something that I can do,” said Barrios. “I can’t come cut their grass. I can’t do anything else, but I can surely send them a po’ boy.”
When praised for his altruistic efforts throughout Needville and neighboring communities, Barrios claims it’s all just a marketing strategy to help spread positive word of mouth. But actions speak louder than words, and it’s plain to see that in addition to being a good marketing-strategist, Barrios is also an all-around good person.
“The question I ask myself about success is ‘What are you willing to sacrifice to be successful,’” said Barrios. “Hard work and dedication pays off – absolutely! You can persevere, and you can achieve through hard work and dedication. You keep your nose to the grindstone, you stay optimistic, you stay positive and you work hard and you can outwork most obstacles.”
To connect with Bayou Boys, you can visit their website here.
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