By Carla Kakouris | November 30, 2020
WESTLAKE, La. — Richard Cole was born and raised in southwest Louisiana and dedicated his life to serving the people of Lake Charles as a local politician for more than 20 years.
“Southwest Louisiana has been my home and will be my home for the rest of my life,” Cole said.
As a politician, Cole would cook for nonprofits. His cooking became very popular and inspired him to open up his own restaurant, Fatboyz Kitchen, in 2016. He prides himself on supporting local schools, football and baseball teams, plus feeding all law enforcement and firemen for free every day of the week.
However, things changed on August 27th when Hurricane Laura swept through Southwest Louisiana. It didn’t come as a surprise, allowing businesses like Cole’s to “batten down the hatches,” but what it left behind was disastrous.
“We come up here the first thing that morning and we saw the restaurant,” Cole said. “It was pretty devastating.”
Before Cole was able to solidify the amount the insurance would pay for the damage, Hurricane Delta plowed through Louisiana taking everything that was left of the restaurant. The ceiling was completely ripped apart and there was four feet of water inside the building. All that was left were the four main walls of the restaurant. Everything else was essentially a complete loss.
We come up here the first thing that morning and we saw the restaurant,” Cole said. “It was pretty devastating.
Nonetheless, Cole decided to help those in need rather than himself. The first three days after Hurricane Laura hit, his restaurant partnered with Care Help and served three thousand meals a day.
He then focused his attention on the Louisiana State Police who had also gone through a tumultuous time during both hurricanes. Sergeant James Anderson said police were figuring out where to take shelter in case the front of the building collapsed.
“We were contemplating where our point of last refuge would be within the troop because of the severity of the storm,” Anderson said. “So we had some folks going to go inside the armory, some folks would go inside of the evidence vault, just to provide that extra level of protection.”
After the storm, help was on the way from other states like Florida and other cities in Louisiana like New Orleans and Shreveport. The problem was there was no food to feed the volunteers. That was when Cole stepped in and fed 250 state troopers for a few weeks.
“We had breakfast, we had lunch, we had dinner, it was just fantastic,” Anderson said. “It was a great morale boost for us.”
While Cole is slowly trying to re-build his business, he knows helping others will pay him back threefold.
“I’ve always had it in my blood, my dad raised us to give back to your community.”