Jumping into my food-finder, with Gary my trusty cohort in gastronomical investigations in tow, I anxiously zoomed down to the historical town of Columbia, Louisiana where the music is sublimely blended with some of the best soul-food one can wrap their lips around.
Owners, Tim and Renne Free’s newly opened restaurant sits directly off highway 165 south in a charming building, which I henceforth dub as being prominently painted “pastry pink” for the sweet and eats located within.
Although this couple shares culinary talent, its Tim’s love of music that adds the “icing on the cake”. An avid pianist Tim most certainly is, however, Free also treats patrons daily to his other musical talents with the guitar, mandolin, stand-up bass, trombone, trumpet and harmonica playing. While not located within the walls at FreeStyle, Tim also plays the Hammond organ. “Sometimes folks just come in and sit down waiting on a table, and listen to the music,” Free says warmly.
Prior to becoming Columbia’s pit master, Tim Free played piano in the Big Easy for tips and food. “I didn’t have money to eat back then, so I played for tips and a meal, which sometimes didn’t work out so well at the end of a long night,” Free recalls. “There were many nights that I barely made enough in tips to buy whatever was leftover in the kitchen, and when Renne and I began this journey, I wanted to make certain anyone who eats with us never leaves hungry,” he explains, so it was no surprise to me that Tim and his lovely wife, Renne, open each day with their staff in a group prayer and close each day the same way, thankful for their blessings, and a family style meal elbow to elbow.
Serving up behemoth portions of chicken fried steak, hand-cut fries, ribeyes, bar-b-que and more, Tim certainly has the “wow” factor figured into the FreeStyle equation. But, one must save room for dessert as Renne (aka the “Queen of Confections”) dishes out some of the most delightful desserts on the south side of the Ouachita. Scratch made cakes, cookies, pies, pastries and even banana’s foster are just some of the samplings one can expect to devour at FreeStyle.
But it’s not just about food and music with Frees, it’s far more than just that. Visiting with Tim and listening to his stories about the people they serve, it only takes a moment to understand why this couple chose this path in life. Tim goes on to share a story about a pint-sized patron, “this little boy came in with his Mama, and just blurted out “Mama we are eating at the Cake & Steak”, and if Renne and I hadn’t already chosen the name for the business, his comment would have sold me completely.”
The overwhelming sincerity, love and fabulous aromas emerging from FreeStyle Catering certainly make it worth the short drive to this eclectic town, so grab your family and your appetite, and dig on in!
Where: FreeStyle Catering Co.
6924 US Hwy 165
Telephone: (318) 502-5000
Hours of Operation:
Lunch – 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and Sunday
Dinner – 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday only.