Local Cajun restaurant brings flavors of Mardi Gras to Lexington



Simon Mobolaji Olagbaju

[email protected]

Students and local Lexington residents wanting to try Cajun and Creole specialties while not wandering too far off campus might be interested in Bourbon n’ Toulouse.

Located on Euclid Avenue, Bourbon n’ Toulouse opened its doors to the public on July 4, 2004 and has been a staple of Lexington since. Will Pieratt, one of the co-owners and the head chef of the restaurant, was an understudy at Jozo’s Bayou Gumbo before he embarked on the road to being an entrepreneur.

“I fell in love with the food, the lifestyle, and the mentality that went alongside working at a restaurant,” Pieratt said. “At 19, I started working at the Register for the owner of Jozo’s, who grew up in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Ten years later, he started urging me to open my own place.”

Years after moving to Florida, and then to Indiana to work for another Jozo’s Bayou Gumbo location, Pieratt finally settled down in his native Lexington area and opened Bourbon n’ Toulouse, along with fellow co-owner Kevin Heathcoat, who he met while working in Indiana.

“Cooking is like an art,” Pieratt said. “During the process you have to keep an open mind, and make changes and tweaks as the process continues.” 

The restaurant’s best sellers are the chicken etouffee, jambalaya, and the gumbo. Southwest etouffee, in addition to the red beans with rice, are also local favorites.

Due to its proximity to the UK campus, Bourbon n’ Toulouse has developed a strong connection to its surrounding community.

According to Pieratt, the student body as well as UK professors are a big part of his restaurant’s success.

“We cater at UK campus events two to three times every week, and we have also catered at the weddings of former students who frequented this restaurant,” Pieratt said. “Essentially, the customers are Bourbon n’ Toulouse. We have literally watched students grow, in addition to their kids; as our restaurant grows, the family grows too.”

Pieratt identified the restaurant’s biggest day of the year as Mardi Gras, which starts on Tuesday.

“We usually get a thousand people that come in on Mardi Gras, and that is big for us because we can only serve fifty people at a time,” Pieratt said. “The kitchen cooks up a lot of crayfish boil, and alligator etouffee in addition to our regular menu, and we have a brass group called ‘Second Line’ play on the streets outdoors, similar to what goes on in New Orleans.”