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Cajun Phatty's plans Feb. 6 reopening after burst pipe forced lengthy shutdown

By Jackie Coffin,


When historic flooding hit southcentral Montana last summer, Cajun Phatty's jumped into action, setting up its food truck in the flood zone, offering people warm meals—a reaction from people all too familiar with natural disaster.

“Well, she's from Louisiana," Melissa Parker says of Cajun Phatty's owner/chef Ashley Robichaux. "So anybody who knows anything about Louisiana knows they completely live in fear all the time, that a hurricane could take them out, a tornado could take them out. Community in Louisiana is huge, so Ashley’s trying to bring that here.”

But now a flood has landed right in the popular Billings Cajun eatery, after a burst pipe in late December did damage to the restaurant, forcing it to shut down for several weeks.

"The wall had to be knocked out. Everything had to be replaced. It damaged our equipment, it damaged our electrical, it damaged everything," said Parker, a manager at Cajun Phatty's.

For the close-knit staff, the water main break hit hard.

"We can’t cook, we can’t serve anybody our food, we can’t see our customers, who we also see as family. It’s been hard," Parker said. "The burst pipe was emotional for everybody. It was hard for everybody.”

Cajun Phatty's Kitchen Manager Ronnie Hagel noted a few positive notes from the forced closure: everyone was paid and kept their jobs, and they had the opportunity to add to their menu.

“[Robichaux] did create some new menu items that we worked on over at her house, so we’re going to try those out before we open," Hagel said.

After weeks of hard work and an all-hands-on-deck effort, Cajun Phatty's will open its doors again on Feb. 6—a day that can't get here soon enough for staff missing their community and customers.

On Valentine's Day, Parker says they are planning a special dinner service 'under the stars' with a set tasting menu.

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