The past year has been full of restaurant openings. And so far, it looks like 2016 will be just as busy with developments in the Acadiana dining scene.
There are a few things you’ll want to keep an eye on in the new year. You’ll see many developments on the south side of Lafayette, especially in the Ambassador Town Center anchored by Costco and in Youngsville and Broussard.
This is by no means an exhaustive list — the second locations of Panera Bread and Jimmy John’s didn’t make the cut, for instance. Instead, this is a starting point.
Here are 16 developments you watch for in 2016.
1. Agave Grill & Cantina
This local restaurant chain is on track to open another location in June in the Metairie Centre on the Circle in Youngsville.
Agave is known for its Louisiana Tex Mex cuisine, margaritas and outdoor seating.
There are currently three Lafayette locations, across from Parc Sans Souci in downtown, across from Cajun Field on Bertrand Drive and in Parc Lafayette.
Learn more about Agave Grill & Cantina by visiting agavelafayette.
2. BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
This restaurant franchise is scheduled to open late March in the Ambassador Town Center anchored by Costco.
Known for its deep-dish pizza and craft beer, BJ’s has plenty of other options, which include burgers, salads, chicken, seafood, steak and more. The company owns several breweries, which produce a number of craft beers for the restaurant.
BJ’s started in 1978 in Orange County, California. There, are now about 150 across America, including two Louisiana locations in Baton Rouge and Slidell.
Learn more about BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse by visiting bjsrestaurants.com.
3. Blaze Pizza
This West Coast, build-your-own pizza franchise is on target to open late March in the Ambassador Town Center.
Blaze Pizza will offer fast-fired, personal pizzas that are similar in concept to the local restaurant Pizza Artista. The 11-inch, thin-crust pizzas cost about $8 each and include a number of topping options, including local specialties such as andouille.
This will be the second location of Blaze in Louisiana. The first, in New Orleans, opened in 2015.
Learn more about Blaze Pizza by visiting blazepizza.com.
4. Chicken Salad Chick
This Auburn-based franchise is on schedule to open soon in the Oil Center, according to local blogger Ben Powers of Developing Lafayette.
Chicken Salad Chick is known for its classic and innovative takes on chicken salad. With more than a dozen chicken salad options on the menu, you’ll find everything from buffalo and jalapeno varieties to ranch-bacon-cheddar and cranberry-almond varieties. The chicken salad is available on sandwiches, on salads or by the pound.
This will be Louisiana’s first location of Chicken Salad Chick.
Learn more about Chicken Salad Chick by visiting chickensaladchick.com.
This popular Austin-based Tex-Mex restaurant franchise is opening its first Louisiana location late in March in the Ambassador Town Center.
Chuy’s is known for its hand-rolled tortillas and fun atmosphere. During happy hour, you’ll find a free, build-your-own nacho bar in the trunk of a car.
The first Chuy’s location opened in Austin in 1982. There are now more than 60 locations.
Learn more about Chuy’s by visiting chuys.com.
6. Dat Dog
This popular New Orleans-based hot dog joint is expected to open a Lafayette location sometime in the new year.
The dream, according to the restaurant’s chief operating officer, is to open by Festival International de Louisiane in April, but that probably won’t happen. An exact location hasn’t even been secured, although a few sites have been discussed, including two in downtown Lafayette.
There are four locations of Dat Dog in New Orleans, and the company is expected to open locations in Baton Rouge and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in addition to Lafayette.
Learn more about Dat Dog by visiting datdognola.com.
7. Drago’s Seafood Restaurant
This New Orleans oyster bar is expected to open a location in Lafayette by the end of 2016.
Drago’s was originally supposed to open in 2015, but a real estate deal in the Parc Lafayette development fell through. The Metairie restaurant opened in 1969 and has expanded in recent years to include a location inside of the Hilton New Orleans Riverside and in the Hilton in Jackson, Mississippi. The company is currently working on Baton Rouge and Lafayette locations and expects to open a few locations in the Houston market soon.
The seafood restaurant is known for its charbroiled oysters but also serves a variety of entrees, such as lobster, seared duck, po’boys and more.
Learn more about Drago’s Seafood Restaurant by visiting dragosrestaurant.com.
8. Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers
This fast-casual franchise is expected to open two locations in Lafayette in the new year. The first will be in February at the intersection of Congress Street and Bertrand Drive and the second in March in the Ambassador Town Center.
Freddy’s is known for its lean-beef steakburgers, Vienna beef hot dogs, shoestring fries and desserts made with chocolate and vanilla frozen custard.
The restaurant, which has a post-war, diner theme, opened in 2002 and now has more than 150 locations. In addition to the two Lafayette locations, a third Freddy’s location in Louisiana is being constructed on Siegen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Learn more about Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers by visiting freddysusa.com.
9. The Jambalaya Shoppe
This Baton Rouge-based restaurant is expected to open a Lafayette location in January at 4150 W. Congress St. in the building formerly occupied by Alwadee and Krystal Burger.
The Jambalaya Shoppe’s best-selling combo is the jambalaya, crawfish pie and filé gumbo, a tribute to the classic Hank Williams song.
The fast-casual restaurant opened 25 years ago in Gonzales. Although there are eight locations in the Baton Rouge and Houma markets, this will be The Jambalaya Shoppe’s first franchise location.
Learn more about The Jambalaya Shoppe by visitingthejambalayashoppe.com.
10. Oh My Taco
One of the first food trucks — well, food trailer, technically — in Acadiana is returning to the local dining scene but as a standalone restaurant set to open in February at 601 C Kaliste Saloom Road.
The fast-casual restaurant is known for its green chile pork tacos, fried chicken tacos and fried catfish tacos.
Oh My Taco rolled out of Lafayette and into Austin in 2012, but the restaurant is back in Lafayette with a fresh new concept.
Learn more about Oh My Taco by visiting “OH MY TACO” on Facebook or by calling 337-296-2015.
11. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
The popular burger franchise with an even more popular slogan (“Red Robin, yum”) is expected to open in May in the Ambassador Town Center.
Although known for its burgers, Red Robin also offers sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads.
Once called Sam’s Tavern and later Sam’s Red Robin, a Seattle entrepreneur purchased the restaurant in 1969, renamed it Red Robin and expanded the operation. There are now more than 500 locations.
Learn more about Red Robin Gourmet Burgers by visiting redrobin.com.
12. Red Rooster Tavern
This casual dining restaurant will be opening in Broussard early in the new year.
Red Rooster Tavern specializes in smoked chicken and smoked chicken salad with the slogan “best damn chicken on Earth!”
Located at 232 Burgess Drive in the building that formerly housed The Station Bar & Grill, the Red Rooster Tavern is currently renovating the space. The plan is eventually to use the building’s performance stage for local and national music acts.
Learn more about Red Rooster Tavern by visiting smokedchickens.com or by calling 337-356-4240.
13. Rock-n-Sake Bar & Sushi
This popular New Orleans and Baton Rouge sushi restaurant is expected to open a Lafayette location in March at 107 Stonemont Road in River Ranch.
Rock-n-Sake originally was set to open in 2015, but construction delays pushed the opening into the new year.
The Asian restaurant is known for its funky vibe and vast menu, which includes small plates, soups, salads, entrees, sushi rolls, sashimi, noodles, rice and desserts. The restaurant’s first location opened in 1998 in the Warehouse District of New Orleans, and a second location opened in 2010 on Perkins Road in Baton Rouge.
Learn more about Rock-n-Sake Bar & Sushi by visiting rocknsake.com.
14. Sakaya Japanese Cuisine
This Abbeville Asian restaurant is expected to open a Lafayette location in the new year in the former Brewski’s location at 5503 Johnston St.
Sakaya is known for its sushi, hibachi, small plates and appetizers.
You’ll find traditional sushi and hibachi offerings, as well as a few surprises, such as the kiddie roll, which is made of french fries, fried chicken and cream cheese wrapped with soy paper and topped with eel sauce.
Learn more about Sakaya Japanese Cuisine by visiting “Sakaya Japanese Cuisine” on Facebook or by calling 337-385-2718.
15. Tao Japanese Cuisine
This local restaurant is expected to open in March in the Ambassador Town Center.
Tao will be one of the few locally-owned spots in the shopping center anchored by Costco, which has attracted many new chain stores and restaurants to Lafayette. Ryan Pecot, who works for a developer of the shopping center, says that those behind Tao do not wish to be identified at this time.
Pecot said that the restaurant owners have two other restaurants in Lafayette but that Tao will be independent from those restaurants and will offer Asian fusion cuisine.
Learn more about Tao Japanese Cuisine as updates become available at theadvertiser.com.
16. World of Beer
This bar-style restaurant franchise is expected to open a Lafayette location in May in the Ambassador Town Center.
World of Beer offers more than 50 beers on tap and an additional 500 by the bottle or can. And that includes regional beers from places such as Parish Brewing in Broussard and Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville. The restaurant also offers a full, bar-themed menu that includes everything from burgers and flatbreads to seared Ahi tuna and salad.
There are more than 70 locations of World of Beer. Louisiana has locations in Metairie and New Orleans.
Learn more about World of Beer by visiting worldofbeer.com.
Bonus! The Wurst Biergarten
This isn’t a restaurant exactly, but a completely new concept to Acadiana that is scheduled to open in January at 537 Jefferson St. downtown.
Billed as a catered park, special event facility and year-round, open-air market, The Wurst Biergarten will include a central, kitchen area that will serve a traditional Europena biergarten menu with options for all ages. It will also serve German, European, local and domestic beer.
In addition to the restaurant element, the biergarten park will also include a market and pop-up stage for live entertainment.
Learn more about The Wurst Biergarten by visiting wurstbiergarten.com