“We’ve been here so long that people feel at home,” says Tim Freer, partner and manager of Cajun Queen. And he’s right. The New Orleans-inspired eatery is as much a part of the fabric of Charlotte as our neighborhoods and sports teams.
When the restaurant first opened its doors in 1985, it was as much a product of coincidence as passion. Sid Godfried had the idea of opening a Cajun restaurant; chef Howard Winter was looking for a job in a kitchen. Together, along with Chef William Wessling, they opened Cajun Queen.
Over the years the men behind the restaurant have shifted, as has the restaurant itself. Partners now include Freer, Chef Wessling, and Gottfried’s son, Robert. The nearly century-old bungalow the restaurant calls home—the building will celebrate its centennial next year—has undergone renovations and additions, including a rooftop patio.
But there are plenty of things that haven’t changed, and that’s how they like it. “We’ve had live music every night for 30 years. In Charlotte, that’s really special,” says Freer.
Another thing that hasn’t changed much? The menu. Over the past 30 years, the chef has only made minimal adjustments to the menu. “We’re just so consistent because it works,” notes Freer. Every night of the week you’ll find regulars dotted at the tables around Cajun Queen; they order the same dish every time because they know it’s delicious. “If it’s not broken…” Freer suggests with a laugh, and it’s true. The menu has worked consistently over the past three decades because it’s good.
So good, in fact, that you might be tempted to make one of their favorite recipes at home. Chef Wessling shares their classic BBQ Shrimp recipe.