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437 brings refined homestyle cooking to Columbia Street

For some down home cooking, 437 restaurant in Bogalusa, one of the newest additions to the city’s historic downtown strip, is the place to experience just that.

The restaurant, which was named after its address on South Columbia Street, specializes in Cajun and creole dishes, along with Southern dishes and seafood. For those who are trying to watch calories, owner Kelli Toney Garwood also has incorporated some health conscious dishes into the menu.

437 opened its doors on Nov. 12. Garwood said the establishment has been well received.

Our business has been good since we opened,” Garwood said. “As people learn that we’re here for lunch and dinner, it has seemed to grow.”

Despite limited experience owning and operating a restaurant, Garwood said food has always been a passion.

“I’ve always been a food lover,” Garwood said. “I’ve always loved to cook from scratch and enjoyed meeting people. So opening a restaurant seemed like the thing to do. I’ve enjoyed meeting a lot of nice people in town and those from out of town and those passing through.”

Garwood said she adds her own touch to some favorites.

“We have creole rabbit with a red sauce and brown gravy base,” Garwood said. “We also have a 437 roast beef that is a sandwich dish and Crawfish Monica. They’re all traditional dishes with my own spin on them.”

Garwood auditioned for TV’s MasterChef in New Orleans and reached the 2013 finals in Los Angeles. Her dish of creole rabbit allowed her to reach the final rounds.

Garwood didn’t set out to be a restaurateur. She was raised in Bush, went to the University of Maryland, where she majored in general studies, and lived on a cattle farm in Covington for 20 years.

Garwood said the bill of fare is one everyone in the area should be able to afford.

“We have a moderately priced dinner menu with lunches every day for $10, including a drink,” Garwood said.

Garwood said a lot of thought went into the restaurant’s ambiance.

“We’ve completely remodeled the building, leaving the tin ceilings with unique additions, including hand-painted floors and 75 percent recycled materials” Garwood said. “I did it all. It was every day for four months. I tried to create a little atmosphere, including a bar area, for a complete dining experience.”

Garwood said 437 boasts more than 60 wine selections, along with some old favorites in beer and spirits.

Business hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The business is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The restaurant has 15 employees.

437’s business phone is 985-732-0437. The business also services to go orders, and visitors can find daily menus and dinner specials at Facebook.com/437columbiarestaurant.