When Kevin Costner’s personal assistant Mac Alsfeld went on the hunt for the Shreveport restaurant that served the actor breakfast more than a decade ago, he had few clues to go by — Costner couldn’t remember the restaurant’s name but it certainly left an impression. Alsfeld knew the eatery was near a hill (sort of), sold groceries and was close to the outskirts of town. He also knew it was one of Costner’s favorites.
Fortunately, Alsfeld was able to locate the restaurant, which was none other than local favorite Cush’s Grocery & Market. And while Costner was recently filming The Highwaymen (a film about the men who pursued outlaws Bonnie and Clyde), he got a chance to revisit the restaurant.
“It was just a place that made an impression for me, and I wanted to find it again,” Costner said. “I feel the best when I land here and walk in, because I know I’m going to get something and it’s going to be good.”
Costner stumbled across the restaurant over 10 years ago while filming in town. He often requested breakfast but didn’t know until his most recent visits to Cush’s that they don’t even serve breakfast.
“I remember coming here and I would have breakfast and it was really great. So then when I brought my friends here 10 years later, I said ‘well I guess they don’t do breakfast anymore’ and then one of the guys said ‘we never did breakfast,’” Costner said. “It was so unassuming the way they were with me. I said, ‘you mean, you guys went out and got batter and made me waffles?’ And they said ‘yeah.’ I told them I would have never done that in a million years had I known. But they just made it effortless. So I always thought a place like this should be replicated because it’s so familial.”
The only other time a cook at a restaurant prepared food for Costner that wasn’t on the menu was while he was filming JFK in New Orleans. He described the place as having a six-seater bar with a little dining area and when he returned home to California to prepare for his role in The Bodyguard, he knew the perfect cook to call to cater the movie’s pre-party. Costner didn’t know at the time that the cook would go on to become world famous. The cook’s name? Emeril Lagasse.
“Emeril made it simple and Mr. Cush (Chris) made it simple,” Costner said. “I don’t think you would normally put their two names together because one now has worldwide fame. But neither one of them had that when I met them and they both had pride in what they have and who they serve.”
Cush’s celebrated 20 years in business in November and although it began as a gourmet grocery with a little cafe, owner Paul Cush said the café eventually took over. While the restaurant is best known for its chicken salad, they serve everything from sandwiches to gumbo and pasta. As for Costner, on some occasions he ordered the spaghetti and meatballs, but on other days, he preferred a ribeye steak.
“He was just a super guy, and I’m really appreciative that he came in and ate at our restaurant. That’s what selling food is all about. People coming in and saying they like your food, and they come back. That’s what makes it all worth it,” Paul Cush said. “I guess it’s kind of like an applause to a performer. When people come back to eat your food, it’s like a standing ovation. That meant a lot for him to continue to come in our store.”
Paul’s sons, Paul Jr. and Chris, also help operate and manage the restaurant. Chris remembers when Costner first came in to eat over 10 years ago. The film industry in the Shreveport-Bossier City area was on the rise — Costner’s movies, The Guardian and Mr. Brooks, were shot here — and the buzz around town was that Shreveport was slated to be the Hollywood of the South.
“We were packed for lunch and they sat at that table right there and everybody was petrified,” Paul Cush said.
No one approached the actor and when it came time for the waitress to bring Costner’s table their ticket, Paul Cush told her not to — it was on the house. Costner thanked the staff and shook Paul’s hand. Once Costner left, the atmosphere erupted with noise and applause.
“It was real loud. One guy grabbed the chair Costner was sitting in. Everyone was losing their minds. It was crazy,” Chris said.
Paul Jr. said other celebrities have eaten at Cush’s and all were kind. But Costner was unique. “Kevin was just over the top nice, a tad classier,” he said.
Filming wrapped for The Highwaymen in late March but before Costner departed, he made one final trip to Cush’s. Dressed head to toe in period costume, Costner picked up some hamburgers to go.
“I hope Paul flourishes,” Costner said. “But he has to get rid of some of those jellies and get more tables in here.”