“They lived in Louisiana, and they loved the food.”
Sometimes the reason for opening a restaurant can truly be that simple. Such was the case for Ray Mobasheri and Susan Shams, according to their daughter, Hoda Mobasheri, who manages the family restaurant, Louisiana Cafe.
Mobasheri and Shams are both originally from Iran, and when they moved to Louisiana in 1999, Mobasheri started his career as an engineer, though he had dreams of opening his own restaurant. Five years later, he and his wife opened the first Louisiana Cafe, where they were both on the line, making their own spice blends and batters.
After 13 years running their restaurant in Louisiana, the couple decided to join their daughter, who was living in Virginia. They sold their original location and brought the strong and bold flavors of Louisiana to Manassas, a town with a history of Cajun and Creole restaurants: Okra’s, the newly opened Shakin Crab and the now-shuttered Lagniappe On the Bayou.
Seafood is a focus at Louisiana Cafe, with fried shrimp po’boy, crawfish-packed etouffe and plenty of fried oysters, all shipped from its namesake state. There’s also a burger, a whopping 10 ounces spiked with a house Cajun blend, plus classics like jambalaya and gumbo.
Opened within days of Louisiana Cafe, Shakin Crab also highlights seafood, mixing Chesapeake crabs with Cajun spices.
Owner Chun Yang based his restaurant off one from another state, too, but in his case, it wasn’t his own.
“My friend has a restaurant in Virginia Beach” called Shaking Crab, says Yang. “I saw that people liked the food and decided to replicate that up here.”
Yang’s insight comes with a hefty background in the restaurant industry. When he moved here from St. Louis, Yang had almost 20 years in hospitality, having owned his own hibachi buffet and Chinese carry-out restaurant during his tenure in Missouri.
But when it comes to his reasoning for serving Cajun food, Yang echoes Mobasheri and Shams: “I just really love the food.” // Louisiana Cafe: 6316 Hoadly Road, Manassas; Shakin Crab: 9886 Liberia Ave., Manassas