Craw and Order

If you don’t know how to eat those little bitty Louisiana crustaceans known as crawfish, don’t worry. Gloria and Kevin Burns, owners of Westport’s two-year-old LaCroix’s Creole Bistro (4019 Pennsylvania), are more than happy to show customers the right way to break open a hot boiled crawdad and pull out the succulent meat.

Last year, when the couple held their first “Live Crawfish Boil” in the tiny restaurant’s parking lot, 60 people showed up. Gloria says they were mostly friends and family, but they got a feast that included 5 pounds of boiled crawfish for every customer. One novice couple in the group weren’t sure they would like the freshwater shellfish, so instead of taking their allotted 10 pounds, they timidly requested 5 to split between them.

“Once I showed them how to eat them,” Gloria recalls, “they went through that 5 pounds pretty fast and came back up asking for their other 5.”

Gloria and Kevin, New Orleans natives, came to Kansas City in 1994 to take white-collar jobs with big-name companies — TWA and Sam’s Town Casino, respectively. A couple of years after they moved here, though, Sam’s Town closed and Gloria was laid off from TWA.

“That’s when Kevin said to me, ‘I think it’s time we finally opened that restaurant.’ He always promised to put my name in lights,” Gloria says, pointing to the marquee-style sign above the door to the restaurant. “And LaCroix is my maiden name.”

Now the two are taking names for their second-annual crawfish boil, scheduled for Sunday, May 28, from 2 to 8 p.m. It’s a reservation-only feast (call 816-561-5227 before May 20), and the $30 price tag once again includes 5 pounds of fresh Louisiana crawfish — boiled in a broth with onions, celery, carrots, garlic, lemons and cayenne — along with new potatoes, turkey necks, sausage and corn on the cob. The meal also includes beer, bottled water, and soda. Gloria encourages festivalgoers to bring along board games and cards. “It’s a six-hour function, and some people stay even after they stop eating.”

The sad news is that none of the restaurant’s excellent signature dishes — jambalaya, gumbo, crawfish cornbread — will be available that day. Fortunately, however, those items are always on the regular menu.

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