POSTED: Sunday, May 19, 2013 - 3:00pm
UPDATED: Sunday, May 19, 2013 - 3:04pm
Baton Rouge, La — Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar has come a long way since first opening its doors in Baton Rouge nearly a decade ago. Once criticized for its mediocre and inconsistent food, the chain of sports bars in Baton Rouge, Lafayette and New Orleans has spent the last several years refining, streamlining and upgrading its menu as part of its “Food First Mentality.”
The payoff came in October 2012 when Walk-On’s was voted the “Best Sports Bar in North America” by ESPN, which noted in particular the restaurant’s unique Louisiana-inspired menu and impressive food and beer selection.
This week, Walk-On’s raised the bar even further by hiring Chef Jeremy Coco as its new Director of Culinary Operations & Training. Most recently serving as the Dean of Education at the Louisiana Culinary Institute, Chef Coco’s impressive background includes stints as Sous Chef for the International Marketplace at Casino Rouge, Executive Chef at Café Vermilionville in Lafayette and Executive Chef/Partner with Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Baton Rouge.
“People might be surprised that a sports bar was able to land a culinary superstar like Chef Coco, but we couldn’t be more serious about taking our food to the next level,” said Jack Warner, co-founder and owner of Walk-On’s and its parent company, Last In Concepts. “We’re proud of how far we’ve come with our menu upgrades over the last couple of years, but now we’re ready to step it up even more.”
In addition to increasing food quality and further refining the Walk-On’s menu, Chef Coco has been charged with training, coaching and leading the kitchen staff at all of Last In Concepts’ restaurants. In addition to the four Walk-On’s locations, the company owns and operates Happy’s Irish Pub, The Roux House, Schlittz & Giggles and Walk-On’s Catering.
Walk-On’s will get the lion’s share of the culinary expert’s attention early on.
“I’ve known and respected Jack for several years, so when he reached out to me to discuss where he and Brandon [Landry] wanted to take Walk-On’s in the future, I was both impressed and intrigued,” said Coco, who officially joined the company on May 8th. “The company is poised for growth both within and beyond Louisiana, so it’s critical to set high standards in quality, consistency and training. I am convinced that Walk-On’s has what it takes to be another extraordinary Louisiana success story.”
Walk-On’s already features several menu items that set it apart from other sports bars and casual dining establishments. Its Tuna Tini appetizer is an unexpected treat, the Duck and Andouille Gumbo is a popular delicacy and the wide array of specialty salads is perfect for those watching their calories. In addition, Warner challenges anyone “to go find a better boneless wing anywhere.”
Of course, no meal at Walk-On’s is complete without a taste of the restaurant’s signature Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding.
So Chef Coco won’t be starting from scratch.
“We’ve been building a stronger team at Last In Concepts over the last few years, but landing Jeremy is a real coup,” said Landry, Warner’s business partner. “We want Walk-On’s to be known worldwide as the ultimate destination for Southern Louisiana Cajun and Creole seafood served up in a casual, fun atmosphere. Jeremy is the perfect guy to transform that vision into reality.”
Chef Coco graduated with Magna Cum Laude honors from the prestigious Johnson & Wales University in Denver. Like Warner and Landry, he earned his undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University. He also earned a Master of Science with a concentration in Leadership, Consulting, Organizational Management and Education from LSU's School of Human Resources and Workforce Development.