This item originally appeared in the April 1, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.
By STEFANIE HILL
There is a place in Louisiana where Mardi Gras beads are a decoration, the smell of crawfish is in the air and people are socializing.
No, it's not New Orleans. It's a little place in Ruston called Ponchatoula's, located at 109 Park Ave.
Chris Garriga, manager of Ponchatoula's and a Tech alumni, said Ponchatoula's is kind of like a home away from home.
"Ponchatoula's is the Cheers of Ruston," Garriga said. "All of our staff works hard to provide our customers with a friendly atmosphere."
Pamela Harper, a senior English major, said she too feels that Ponchatoula's is a place where everyone knows your name.
"It has a loyal crowd. When I come in here, I know I'm going to see someone I know," Harper said.
Johnny Gaudet, owner of Ponchatoula's, said he opened the restaurant nine years ago with one of his friends.
"We have been here so long that I think it has become a tradition for some of our customers to come here, relax and hang out," Gaudet said.
Will Cuming, a regular customer at Ponchatoula's and a junior marketing major, said the food brings him back time and time again.
"They have great appetizers, especially the mini-meat pie baskets," Cuming said. "Ponchatoula's is the first bar I ever went to, and I keep coming back because everything is so great here -- great owner, great environment and a great staff."
People don't come to Ponchatoula's only for the food, but also for the wide range of entertainment it offers. Some come to enjoy a game of cricket on the dartboard or to shoot some pool.
And if great food and great drink specials are not what you are looking for, you can come in and catch the game on the big screen.
"We are the only bar in town that has a big-screen television for our customers," Gaudet said.
Not only are there games and television for entertainment, but customers can also take pleasure in hearing the sound of a live band every Wednesday and Friday night.
"The bands range from country to rock 'n' roll," Garriga said. "We have a very diverse crowd of music lovers."
Andrew Strong, a physical education major, said he really enjoys the live performances.
"The music is really good, and even though there are many people who go to Ponchatoula's, it is never slam packed to the point that you are uncomfortable," Strong said.
Harper said coming to Ponchatoula's is like getting a taste of the good side of New Orleans.
"It's the closest thing you are going to find without actually going to New Orleans," Harper said. "It has a homey feel to it.
"I am so comfortable here," Harper said. "It's like going over to my best friend's house to chill."