For the past 19 years, Howard Catlett and his sons, Chris and Scott, have provided the Greater Houston area with authentic Cajun cuisine through Hebert’s Specialty Meats.
Based out of Maurice, Louisiana, Hebert’s Specialty Meats offers fresh and frozen meats, which are seasoned and marinated according to the company’s signature recipes. The Catletts opened their first franchise location in the Galleria area in 1997, followed shortly by a second location in West Houston in 1998.
The family opened its third location in Shenandoah’s Portofino Shopping Center in 2004.
“We thought [Shenandoah] would be a pretty good area for a new store because there are a lot of people from Louisiana who have moved into this area with oil and gas companies,” Howard Catlett said. “So they were already familiar with Hebert’s. We knew how popular it was with the oil and gas industry in Louisiana, so we knew we would have a kind of built-in customer base here in Houston.”
Well-known for its deboned stuffed chickens, which come in 10 different flavors, Hebert’s Specialty Meats also offers turkeys, turduckens, pork chops, rabbit, duck and ham, seasonally. They are all prepared in Hebert’s style and ready to cook. True to Cajun culture, the franchise also boasts alligator, frog legs, gumbo, etouffee, boudin and boudin balls, crawfish pies and crawfish tails year-round.
“There have been a lot of Cajun places that have come and gone, but Hebert’s has survived the decades,” store Manager Julie Derrick said. “I think the seasoning, the care that’s taken with the product, the professionalism—it all makes for quality meats and we’ve been doing it for a long time so it’s the real deal. That’s why we have so many Cajuns come in here; the Cajuns keep us busy because if it’s not authentic, they’re not going to eat here.”
Before opening the first location, Howard Catlett said it took Chris two years to convince Hebert’s Specialty Meats to let him open his own franchise in Houston. Once the owners finally agreed, Chris spent four months working in the original Louisiana store learning how to properly prepare meats the Hebert way.
“Most of our products you can’t buy at the grocery store because our flavor is so unique,” Howard Catlett said. “Hebert’s requires that whoever has a franchise must operate under their conditions using their recipes and their seasonings—everything has to be uniform. Once people try our product, they usually become repeat customers.”
Although the store’s seasonings are prepared in Louisiana and used at two other franchises in Tulsa and Dallas, the meats sold at the Shenandoah location are processed locally at the Catletts’ West Houston location. Only frozen once, deliveries are made to the store three times each week and are rotated into the freezer every three to four days, optimizing freshness, Derrick said.
Customers can order Hebert’s Specialty Meats online to ship anywhere in the U.S. They can also place orders in advance during the store’s busiest times of the year; Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The Catletts are expanding their production store in West Houston, and although they have no plans to expand their location in Shenandoah, Howard Catlett said there may be a fourth franchise location in the Austin area in the family’s future.
“I think a lot of people like Hebert’s because we’re a family-owned business—not a big corporation,” Derrick said. “They no longer have to drive to Louisiana for authentic Cajun food because it’s right here.”