The owners behind Bells Sweet Factory are Thaddeus Bell and Ashley Johnson, both New Orleans natives who moved to Texas three years ago. They had a rough start upon arriving in the Lone Star State, experiencing financial hardships and homelessness. After initially trying to open a sweet shop (hence the name The Bells Sweet Factory), they eventually turned to Bell’s love for cooking and started selling to-go plates out of their car.
With no professional culinary experience, Bell relied on his self-taught skills stemming from watching his mother cook in the kitchen while growing up. Inspired by their favorite New Orleans restaurants, like the restaurant Cajun Seafood on Claiborne Avenue, Bell and Johnson perfected their dishes through trial and error. They curated a menu that truly represents their NOLA roots, including lamb chops, yakamein (noodle soup that is also called New Orleans ol' sober), gumbo and praline brownies.
Arriving at the location, we saw a “coming soon” banner high above their new soon-to-open spot. Right across from it is their food trailer attached to a big truck. When we stepped out of our car the aromas of something spicy and fried filled the air. We did arrive 15 minutes before closing, so there was worry that they were sold out for the day. However, Johnson welcomed us with a smile and helped us decide on three dishes for dinner.
After about 20 minutes, Johnson called us over and we picked up a very heavy bag. We made the best of the mild autumn weather with an impromptu picnic, laying out our enormous portions on top of our Civic: NOLA Pasta, fried ribs, Sticky Mac and the Bells Bayou Box.
The highlight of our meal was the fried ribs, which were crispy, savory and fall-off-the-bone tender. The Sticky Mac (mac and cheese) is al dente macaroni with a perfectly creamy cheese sauce.
The Bells Bayou Box is a deep-fried paradise with a generous portion of waffle fries, fried fish, fried shrimp all covered in a creamy seafood sauce (photo at top).
Bell and Johnson are excited to finally open their restaurant and bring their New Orleans dishes to Plano, a city that has already shown great support to these new Texas residents. It was surprising that these big plates of bold flavor came from such a tiny trailer, one can only imagine what the brick and mortar will bring.
“Every hardship you can think about, we went through. We are excited to see where the restaurant world takes us," Johnson said.
Bells Sweet Factory, 2109 W. Parker, Suite 210 (Plano), 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. - 11 p.m. Friday-Sunday