Wilfred Kinnerson Jr. has big dreams, and they will start coming true in a few weeks when he opens the Briskett Baskett Sports Bar and Grill.
Kinnerson is already well-known for his food. He currently runs a food truck that serves businesses and locations from Carencro to Washington and as far west as Eunice, but now he will have a permanent location.
He recently broke ground on his proposed restaurant at 720 N. Market St., a site that formerly housed the Kiddie Korral day care center.
Kinnerson plans to add a 15-by-15-foot kitchen to the building, as well as another building that will serve as his smoker and deep-fat fryer.
“We will specialize in barbecue brisket, ribs, pork steak and chicken,” said Kinnerson, who said he hopes to open his new business within a month or two. “We should be able to seat about 45 to 50 customers.”
Kinnerson said he would also like to add an outdoor pavilion to host gospel and other music events down the road.
“When the people get out (of those music events), they will smell my food cooking and come in to eat my brisket,” Kinnerson said.
Although his barbecue brisket is his claim to fame, Kinnerson said he wants to carry an extended menu. There will be a featured dish every day “for people who don’t like barbecue,” and he also wants to serve everything from homemade boudin and cracklins to crabs, seafood and lobster.
He said his wife introduced him to lobster, and he fell in love with the flavor, “but you just can’t get it around here.”
Kinnerson is a member of the former “Fantastic Soul Review” that played at local clubs for years, and he said he would love to get the band back together again to play in the bar portion of his new business.
“It is a dream of mine,” said Kinnerson, who said he started singing with the group at 13.
As for the bar, he said it will have a pool table, an ice cream machine and video poker machines. “We’ll specialize in good food and good fun,” Kinnerson said.
Kinnerson is a 23-year veteran of the Opelousas Fire Department and is now retiring.
On hand for the groundbreaking were a number of his co-workers, including Fire Chief Lee Cahanin and Assistant Chief John Saucier.
“He learned his cooking skills at the fire department,” Cahanin said.
Saucier said Kinnerson is such a good cook that there were even times when the department would respond to a fire call but leave Kinnerson behind to guarantee they had a great meal waiting for them when they returned.
“His cooking was excellent. He took it to a new level,” Saucier said. “We have a lot of camaraderie in the fire department and a lot of that is around the dinner table.”
Although cooking for his co-workers was enjoyable, Kinnerson said he actually learned the trade much earlier.
One of 11 children born into a sharecropping family, he received his first lessons at his mother’s knee. But he got his formal training as a soldier in Vietnam.
While in Vietnam, he was assigned to medical unit and was put in charge of preparing meals for wounded soldiers on special diets. He soon became a favorite chef for the unit’s medical staff.