by Elizabeth Wehman, editor

JOHN BEILFUSS, Owner of Lula’s Louisiana Cookhouse, is shown here with his daughter, Ally. Many of the cookbooks on display, above the restaurant booth where they are seated, have been used by Beilfuss to formulate recipes and ingredients used in his menu items. The Jazz records are from a collection Beilfuss used to regularly listen to in his childhood home.

     Ally recently asked her parents, “You always talk about owning your own restaurant, when are you gonna make it happen?” Beilfuss now says that was the kick start he needed to get busy and start one of the fastest growing Louisiana style restaurants in the state of Michigan, right here in Owosso. (Independent Photo/Elizabeth Wehman)


“I love the small town feel of Owosso,” owner of Lula’s Louisiana Cookhouse John Beilfuss says about the location of his now famous restaurant on south Washington St., in downtown Owosso. “We live here and we love it. It’s a great place for a small business.”

Lula’s Louisiana Cookhouse began as Beilfuss practiced, played, and experimented with many southern recipes at his home. On a whim one day, Beilfuss decided to try out for the television show, “Master Chef.” “After applying to be on the show, I kinda forgot about it until they called and asked me to travel to Chicago to audition for the show. It was a few weeks before Christmas and we were busy planning a huge party for the season. I decided not to go.” The show didn’t give up and the next year asked him to try out again. “This time I just had to go and see what happened.” After a seven hour cooking session, in a room full of other cooks, he soon realized he was a favorite among the contestants. The judges rated the candidates from 1 to 30 (30 being the highest score) to go on to the next step of qualifying for the show. Beilfuss says, “They gave me a 30 and said I was a shoe-in for the show.” Something odd happened in the application process, but Beilfuss wasn’t upset when he didn’t get called to do the show, but it did solidify his confidence that he was a good cook and also propelled him to take up the dream of owning his own restaurant.

He established Lula’s in the last week of May in 2012. Beilfuss loves New Orleans food, French Quarter, southern cooking. “I realized the recipes my mother used to make were not only great, but could be made even better,” he smiles. Beilfuss took her recipes and began playing with the spices and the marinades. “The trick in great fried chicken is the dry marinade,” he adds, “I believe the longer the better.” The chicken has been such a huge hit here in Shiawassee County, now patrons from all over the state

of Michigan are traveling to Owosso to get their taste of the Cajun style food, but especially the fried chicken. “We cook everything from scratch here, “ Beilfuss says, “The only thing we buy readymade is the ketchup and mustard. Nothing is from a box or bag.”

Guests sampling the food at the unique restaurant love the fried chicken, but they also like the Bayou Fried Rice and the Brisket Beef. “Many guests love to come in and sample the Chicken and Waffles. They’re a big favorite here.” Beilfuss also loves to make his own meat. His cures his own ham, the sausages are ground and made along with every single sauce and even all the salad dressings. “Homemade is key,” he adds.

Before the end of the year, Beilfuss is expanding to accommodate the now loyal followers and customers coming in every day. “If you don’t have a reservation these days, you often leave disappointed. We need more space to accommodate our customers,” Beilfuss admits. To do that, Beilfuss will soon expand Lulas into the space next door by taking out a wall and enlarging his restaurant from 57 seats to 150 seats. The expansion is slated to be finished sometime in November. or near the end of the year. The extra room will offer customers a new bar area highlighting the best in craft beer and an extensive wine collection. Beilfuss is also investigating several regionally and national popular musicians to add to the Lula’s atmosphere. “We love Delta Blues, Jazz and even folk genres,” Beilfuss smiles, “They’ll be able to perform on our new semi-circular stage.”

Recently, Beilfuss has seen an amazing surge in business due to being named one the best places to buy fried chicken in the state. “We’ve gone from eight to ten meals a day to now more than 160. We usually sell approximately 1800 pieces of chicken a week,” Beilfuss adds, “We never envisioned the restaurant getting this big so fast.” The restaurant has served 10,000 pieces of chicken since July 7, but again he reiterates, “Just don’t forget to call for a reservation.”

“Everything from Scratch” is Key to Lula’s Louisiana Cookhouse was last modified: August 31st, 2016 by Karen Elford