The Jambalaya Shoppe: Owner aims to make Cajun food a recognizable staple in area

The jambalaya dinner ($8.99) comes with chicken and sausage served on a bed of rice. (Andy Yanez/Community Impact Newspaper)
The jambalaya dinner ($8.99) comes with chicken and sausage served on a bed of rice. (Andy Yanez/Community Impact Newspaper)

The jambalaya dinner ($8.99) comes with chicken and sausage served on a bed of rice. (Andy Yanez/Community Impact Newspaper)

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The pastalaya diner ($8.99) comes with chicken and sausage mixed in with spaghetti along with corn and salad on the side. (Andy Yanez/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Shelly Hayes, the owner of The Jambalaya Shoppe in Pearland, opened the restaurant in late 2019. (Andy Yanez/Community Impact Newspaper)
When opening The Jambalaya Shoppe in Pearland, Shelly Hayes was eager for the challenge of taking the concept established by Stefan and Cheryl Fontenot in Gonzales, Louisiana, and exposing a new area to the culture of Cajun food.

When the restaurant came to 12568 Broadway St. in December 2019, it seemed like she was off to a good start: The eatery had many catering orders, and people familiar with Louisiana delicacies stopped by when they learned The Jambalaya Shoppe had opened close to home, Hayes said.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing the restaurant to transition into operating only as a drive-thru with online ordering. Its catering took a hit as well as more people began working from home, she said.

“We barely got up and running and had to shut down the dining,” Hayes said. “We were rushing to survive and adapt.”

As the pandemic has subsided, The Jambalaya Shoppe has slowly begun to see an increase in overall business again. Just before summer, it saw an uptick of catering orders during graduation season.


“I feel like we’re basically having a re-grand opening,” Hayes said.

Being a Cajun restaurant in Pearland has been a unique challenge, she said.

Separate from the pandemic, Hayes said there is a large portion of residents who do not know much about jambalaya and similar foods. Hayes is happy to educate customers about popular menu items, such as the jambalaya combo, which comes with chicken and sausage on a bed of rice, two crawfish pies and gumbo.

Hayes said she is still focused on making The Jambalaya Shoppe a recognizable name in Pearland. When people unfamiliar with the style of food approach the restaurant, Hayes even offers them free samples of their food to try out, and she is confident that more likely than not, they will enjoy what they taste.

“We hook people,” Hayes said. “Once you try the food, you like it.”
By Andy Yanez

Reporter, Pearland/Friendswood

Andy joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in June 2021 after graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Houston. He started off as the South Houston Metro Reporter where he helped each different edition in the South Houston market before transitioning to the Pearland/Friendswood market in August 2021. Andy covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in these communities. Prior to CI, Andy served as the sports editor of The Cougar, UH's student newspaper, where he covered the university's athletics beat for two years and got to cover the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four in Indianapolis.



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