#RustonStrong

April 30, 2019

Like most folks I was shocked to hear the news that an EF3 tornado tore through Ruston, Louisiana last Thursday. The city of Ruston and Louisiana Tech University will always hold a special place in my heart.

In the summer of 2008, I moved to Ruston to attend Louisiana Tech for what I had hoped to be just a few years. At the time, I had a narrow-minded concept of what college life would be. Go to class, party a little bit, graduate, and get a job. For me, Ruston was just a stepping stone, but things changed quickly.

After a few months, I knew Ruston was where I wanted to lay down some roots. I also realized that a part time job wouldn’t be the worst idea ever.

Towards the end of high school, I started working at Lowe’s, and figured I end up doing something like that until I graduated at Tech. I never imagined myself working in the restaurant industry. The hours always seemed inconsistent and working on holidays was never appealing. I also didn’t really see myself as a people person. I’m sure anyone that knows me now finds that hard to believe.

Luckily, I fell right into the restaurant business and towards the end of my first year at Louisiana Tech, I was hired as a cook at Dawg House Sports Grill. A Ruston staple and go to spot to watch a game, grab a beer and shoot a game of pool. That summer spent working alongside my brother and a few soon to be best friends would prove to be life changing. I found out quickly that working in the kitchen was more than just flipping burgers. You must think on your feet, and most importantly communicate with everyone to get the job done.

When school started back up in the Fall, I moved on from Dawg House and ended up at Sundown Tavern in downtown Ruston. Sundown could be considered the “Cheers” of Ruston. It’s the local watering hole with live music almost nightly, and a patio filled with stories that could rival your anything you would read our hear around these parts of the south. Sundown molded me into the outgoing person that had keen interest in customer experience. It’s where I really learned the importance of service and the benefit of treating every customer like it was there first time through the doors.

A couple years later, in April of 2015, I moved back to Shreveport to start my career at Great Raft. Although I was back to where I was born and raised it took a while for me to not refer to Ruston as home. I spent the better part of a decade in a town that I’ll always consider home. I didn’t come back with a degree like I had set out today, but the knowledge I gained and the stories I have are more than I could’ve ever bargained for.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without my time in Ruston. The tragic news I heard last week hit me hard, and it was a no brainer that we needed to do something to help. Thankfully I work for a local company that is always ready to step up to the plate for a great cause.

To help our friends in Ruston, stop by the tasting room this week where a portion of our sales will be donated to help storm victims. There is a special you can purchase at the front desk for $15 (you receive 3 pint tokens and a souvenir glass) and $3 of that will go directly to the LA Tech Alumni Association specifically for clean up / recovery efforts. You can also drop off cleaning supplies or any other donations for us to take over in the coming weeks. The highest need at the moment is for the items listed below:

• Trash bags
• Basic toiletries
• Toilet paper
• Paper towels
• First aid supplies
• Styrofoam cups/plastic
• Napkins
• Snack foods
• Medium duty type gloves
• Laundry detergent
• Disinfectant and Wipes
• Bug spray
• Suncreen
• Ziplock bags (sandwich size)
• Paper bags
• Flashlights
• Batteries
• Hand soap
• Gas Cans
• True Fuel or 2 cycle oil for chain saws
• Tarps
• Rope
• Bungie Cord Hooks

The people of Ruston are strong. They care for each other and are an example of what’s needed in a time like this. This is just a bump in the road for my “hometown.” Ruston will be back. Stronger and better than ever. #rustonstrong

Bob Thames

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