New kid on the walk

Opening of Walk-On’s Restaurant makes waves in the Texarkana community


Photo by Doug Kyles

Story by Doug Kyles, staff writer

“Is it any good?”, “How’s the staff?”, “Is it really worth the hype?” These questions and more are asked among every community amidst the opening of any new restaurant, as the establishment is judged like the “new kid” at school. Texarkana especially has a long history of obsessing over new places to grab a bite, and with its newest restaurant, Walk-On’s, the reaction is no different. 

Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux has expanded into the Texarkana area by opening a new franchise on Feb. 3. Located on West Park Boulevard, the restaurant has seldom seen an empty parking space in its first month, as the establishment has enjoyed consistent business. 

“Our opening weekend in Texarkana was one of the best openings that Walk-Ons has ever had, in terms of sales,” Franchise Partner Ricky Tompkins said.

But surely this was beginner’s luck, right? Well, no. Texarkana continued to welcome Walk-On’s throughout their first month with the same level of support. 

“Since we opened, sales have stayed relatively the same,” Tompkins said. “We’ve stayed just as busy from the week of opening until now.”

Such success upon opening, and further, makes one wonder where the dream for a Texarkana Walk-On’s started. And the inspiration in this case goes further than simply analyzing a potential market and then making a calculated business decision.

“We decided we were going to put in a Walk-On’s in Texarkana about two years ago,” Tompkins said. “It took us only about two years from the time we bought the franchise rights from Walk-On’s to finding a property, to closing on the property, to breaking ground, and then opening.”

To go to the trouble of expanding into a blip off the interstate like Texarkana when other locations are surely more accessible and safe options, one would wonder where the motivation came from.

“Texarkana reminded a lot of the city where we are from, which is Alexandria, Louisiana,” said Tompkins. “My other two partners and I own a restaurant there which is also a Walk-On’s. After researching and going to Texarkana, we saw a lot of similarities and thought that since we had success in our Alexandria location, this would be another great market to put a Walk-On’s in.”

Walk-On’s specializes in Cajun cuisine, but their menu covers a wide range of dishes, to appeal to every customer. Their ability to bring Louisiana inspired dishes to a national scale while appealing to every customer with a diverse menu is likely a key factor in their success.

“It hasn’t been difficult to [expand to areas] where Cajun dishes aren’t common,” said Tomkins. “Actually, only about 20% of our menu is Cajun cuisine. So even if you don’t like Cajun cuisine, we have so many options from pastas, to burgers, to salads and wraps.”

The attempt to exclude no one goes further than the Walk-On’s menu. The target audience of everyone is evident in every part of the business, especially the attitude of company higher-ups like Tompkins. 

“It is absolutely, absolutely 100% our goal to appeal to everyone,” Tomkins said. “We believe that we are the place to go for a guy’s-night-out, girl’s-night-out, family dinner, the little league baseball team when they’re done with their game, the family after church; we believe that we are the restaurant for every person out there.”

It is likely this “leave no customer behind” mentality that has led so many Texarkana natives into Walk-Ons doors over the past month. From what they’ve seen so far, management is expecting big things from the Texarkana location’s future. 

“The Texarkana location definitely has exceeded our expectations, and the people of Texarkana have been very welcoming of us to the community,” Tomkins said. “We’ve done a lot of good things, but even when we do mess up, the people of Texarkana have been very forgiving and have noticed how hard we are working to get things right so that we are a great restaurant from now until forever.”