The Daily Gamecock

Blue Cactus Café: keepin' it spicy

Blue Cactus Café isn’t a restaurant you’d notice right away. In fact, you’ve probably passed it several times without knowing. Located in Five Points next to The Salty Nut, its high concrete walls cover the entrance making it hard to view. But if you haven’t been, you’re missing out on some great food.

Blue Cactus combines dishes inspired by Korean and Southwestern cuisine.

Established on Cinco de Mayo of 1994, the restaurant was opened by Lloyd and Mary Reese.  At that time, there weren't many restaurants in Five Points. With a fresh angle, they were able to establish their niche and gain a customer base.

Blue Cactus Café is a family-run business. Lloyd and Mary Reese's  daughter and grandson also work in the restaurant. It started as a sandwich shop, but Lloyd and Mary Reese wanted to turn it into something different. They decided to serve Korean and Southwestern dishes to combine the two cuisines they loved most.

On the Korean half of the menu, you can find dishes that incorporate stir fry, stews, noodles and rice. On the Southwest side, foods include burritos, quesadillas and beans to flare up your taste buds.

“We pride ourselves on the various foods we serve because anyone is able to eat here,” Lloyd said. The restaurant also prides itself on being, “world famous and arrogantly slow.”

"It’s one of those things we couldn’t change. My dad believes if you can’t change it, you might as well be proud of it,” said Julie Reese, daughter of Lloyd and Mary Reese.

They put time into making the food because they use fresh ingredients and work to make sure it’s cooked well.

“The food we offer is the kind of food that has a home cooked and authentic taste to it,” Lloyd said.

The Bee Bim Bob  is a popular meal amongst customers — it consists of a bowl of rice with five Korean vegetables with choice of tofu, beef, chicken or spicy pork and comes with a sunny side up egg.

Besides the taste, people also come to the restaurant because it’s easy on the wallet. Nothing on the menu is over $10, making it rather simple for Lloyd to come up with prices.

“What I wanted was for us to serve good food at a reasonable price that I could afford to sell,” Lloyd said.

Even though it's a family business, the greatest relationship is with the customers. Since the restaurant has been in Five Points for 20 years, it has gathered a strong customer base.  The restaurant also frequently interacts with patrons on their Facebook page to keep them in the loop.

Just as Julie was explaining the customer relationship, a man walked in and right as she saw his face, she asked if he was sticking with his usual order. Just like that, she told her mom to make him a Bee Bim Bob with tofu, egg and an unsweet tea with water.

“Well I guess that was a perfect example wasn’t it?” Julie said.

The restaurant is all about the customer experience. When you walk in, you’re greeted with a smile and if you need help picking something off the menu, they’re more than happy to suggest a good dish.

“For every customer that walks in the door, we work to provide them great quality food," Lloyd said. "That’s what makes a great restaurant."