There is one thing you can say about Shababy’s Cajun Cooking chef and owner Mandy Smith- neither illness, adversity or an especially hard floor- has been able to keep this good Cajun woman down.

Recently, Mandy’s husband, helper, supporter and full time fish cleaner, Mike, suffered a heart attack. He is on the mend and on forced bed rest, but Mandy isn’t sure how long she can keep him confined to the house. “He keeps asking me who is going to clean all the fish at the restaurant? I tell him I am!” Mandy laughs.

A happy family of first-time customers.

It seems like the hits just keep coming. Just days before this photo was taken recently, Mandy slipped and fell while bringing food to a table, injuring her shoulder.  “I was on the ground, Cher, and peoples was screaming,” she says, wide-eyed. Then comes the smile- “And I only dropped four fried shrimp off the plate!” Mandy is a tenacious character, delightful and hard-working. Even with setbacks, her delicious cooking, her love of her customers and her can-do work ethic continue to draw new customers and expand her digital popularity which has become nothing short of amazing.

Photos like this have been breaking the Internet.

Simple photos of her fried fish and shrimp baskets and other goodies posted to Facebook often see organic (non boosted) reach in the thousands with hundreds of ‘shares,’ that push the photos to points all over the U.S. “People call me from Wisconsin and other states and tell me they are coming for dinner. I say, ‘Do you know where we are, cher?'”

Mandy delivering to an 18-wheeler driver who diverted into downtown for some of her food.

Most recently, she has found herself on the cross-country trucker’s network. “I started getting calls from 18-wheeler drivers asking me if there was a place to park so they could come eat. I told them no, but that I would run out and deliver their meals if they called or texted me.” So far, several have come through for ShaBaby’s pickups.

Mandy is making a change starting this weekend (Oct. 9) that she hopes will allow even more people to try the restaurant, new Sunday hours.
Monday…. Closed
Tuesday…. Closed
Wednesday 11 am – 9 pm
Thursday 11 am – 9 pm
Friday 11 am – 10 pm
Saturday 12 pm – 10 pm
Sunday 12 pm – 7 pm
“People are telling me they want to come on Sunday for some great food,” she says, “So I am giving them the opportunity.” Mandy hopes to see folks who are unable to get into downtown during the week or have friends and family they would like to bring with them on Sundays. “I’m praying they show up and show out for me!”

Mandy’s Broken Wing & Queen Cake Season/ February 2022

It’s hard enough for chef and resident character Mandy Smith to have a broken wing, but during Queen Cake Season??? Several weeks ago, Mandy, loaded with plates of fried seafood goodness, came bustling out of the kitchen, slipped and fell. “I didn’t spill one plate, cher,” she told me. “Not one thing fell off any plate and none of the plates touched the ground.” Unfortunately, Mandy did, and landed so hard she fractured her wrist. A cook limited to full use of only one arm is at a disadvantage, but Queen Cake season requires both hands on deck for the frenzy of stirring needed to make sure her Cajun Queen Cakes are as over the top good as they can possibly be.

To be honest, I had never even heard of a Queen Cake until Mandy started waxing poetic about how good they were. Apparently, they are like a King Cake on steroids. WGNO-TV in NOLA describes them as… “The Queen Cake is a tribute to excess. It is a revved up King Cake that offers a variety of flavors that have become so popular in the King Cake universe.” This pretty much sums it up. The Queen Cake is generally more of everything and can be sweet or savory.

In Shababy’s Queen Cake arsenal are the:

The blueberry Queen Cake, ooey, gooey and delicious.

The strawberry Queen Cake, ditto.

The savory Hamburger Queen Cake.

The Crawfish Etouffee Queen Cake.

And finally, the Red Bean Cornbread Queen Cake. There are more, and Mandy comes up with new recipes every day. Queen Cakes are not ‘on the menu’ but call or Facebook message and ask her when they will be hot out of the oven and BE THERE for it. Queen Cake season doesn’t come around often, so don’t miss it!  Shababy’s is located at 605 Texas Street and is open 11 am- 9 pm Tues.-Thurs., 11 am- 10 pm on Fridays and noon-10pm on Saturdays. When you walk in the building take the stairs to your right to the second floor for seating.

One Year Anniversary Story- Nov. 17, 2021

Shababy’s Cajun Cooking is celebrating a one year anniversary downtown of serving up heaping platters of fried Cajun goodness to a legion of appreciative customers. Owners Mandy and Mike moved into their small space at 605 Texas Street during a period when the Caddo Parish Courthouse was still closed due to Covid and the streets of downtown were quiet and very empty. Even the normally upbeat and positive Mandy wondered if the world would ever get ‘back to normal.’ While still not totally the way it was ‘before’, Mandy has managed to break through to customers in a way that should have professional marketing managers and ad agencies in awe.

First is the food. It is delicious, hot and made to order. Mandy uses a blend of spices and lemon -no salt- to give her dishes great flavor that mimics salt without the sodium. She and her husband Mike KNOW their seafood and are constantly sourcing the very best- shrimp from one particular vendor in South Louisiana, big catfish from Toledo Bend- wherever takes them to the freshest and best. She is also a great, intuitive cook who might decide to whip up a homemade bread pudding with butter rum sauce one day and steamed crab claws the next. If you don’t go by often, you will miss specials that will not appear on her menu and may NOT make it to Facebook because they sell out so fast.

Next is the attitude. When not herding cats in the tiny kitchen and juggling pots and pans, Mandy works the dining room. She never meets a stranger and always has a cute story or fun quip – customers love both her accent and the individual attention. (After chatting with Mandy, one recent customer actually sent her big jugs of Peach Cider from Wisconsin as a thanks for a fun night at the restaurant).

Though prices may have to go up and menus change because of the season, Mandy always tries to keep her customers priority #1. For this, their anniversary month, they are running a contest in which each customer in a given week is entered into a drawing at the end of the week for food gifts.

But here’s where it gets really good. Several months ago, Mandy’s social media posts of heaping plates of fried shrimp and fish and happy customers started going viral in a big way. A Nov. 2 post of a tasty lunch order reached 30,000+ people, garnered nearly 3,000 engagements, saw 100 shares and 77 comments. Businesses everywhere could only hope for activity like this for unboosted posts. Mandy tries to respond to each comment, keeps in touch with her customers, responds quickly to their praise and concerns. She has figured it out and the customers have responded.

When Mandy decided that she wanted to open a downtown restaurant in 2020, her supportive husband Mike came grudgingly along, hoping that it would be of short duration and that they might be able to retire to full-time fishing on Toledo Bend. During the early days of the business as the world had slowed for Covid, it appeared he just might get his wish. It was not to be. Sorry Mike, you’re out of luck now. We’re keeping her.

We encourage you to try ShaBaby’s for yourself. They are open Tues.- Thurs, 11 am- 9 pm, Fridays, 11am- 10 pm and Saturdays, noon- 10 pm. Mandy would like to meet you, and we promise that you will like what she is serving up.


Original Story-  November 2020

If the popularity of a good restaurant is one part food, one part attitude and one part accent, downtown’s newest eatery is going to be a hit. ShaBaby’s Cajun Cooking has thrown open their doors at 605 Texas Street and they are inviting you to become a member of their well-fed family.

Here’s why you’re going to love the owner Mandy.

Owners Mandy and Mike have been in the restaurant business for years, most recently a ten-year stint in Bernice, Louisiana. It has been a very rough go for them -as with all eateries- during the ups and downs of COVID-19, and the recent remnants of Hurricane Laura hit their Bernice location hard, knocking out power and water for a number of days.  The Shreveport area beckoned because of the grandchildren, both of whom are local. It didn’t take them long to fold the grandkids into the family business. One of their granddaughters is already learning the restaurant ropes. The other, a three-year-old, will no doubt grow up with a firm knowledge of Cajun sayings, secret spices and special family recipes.

Plate Lunch Week One- Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, a Veg and Peach Cobbler.

For the time being, lunch at ShaBaby’s is a single plate offering, which will be advertised on the Sha Baby Facebook Page. Opening week it has been red beans, sausage and rice, Jambalaya, corn or green beans, peach cobbler and a drink, for the all-inclusive price of $10. The food is well-seasoned, tasty, and filling. Mandy’s grandmother’s peach cobbler recipe is delicious and she is proud of the fact that all the food is homemade and authentic. At our table of six there were no complaints about anything, only comments about the tastiness of various aspects of the meal and the general happiness of a meal being appreciated.  The plate lunch is what’s available from noon- 2 pm each day; after 3 pm you will be able to order off the expansive menu until closing at 10 pm. You will be able to order off the menu all day Saturday and Sunday. Current hours are Wed-Sun., noon- 10 pm.

605 Texas Street is the former 4 J’s Java and more that features seating on two floors. No alcohol is currently available. Sha Baby’s is open for dine in or carry out. Call them at 318-401-0908 for take out ordering.