KARNACK — Since Juneteenth 2019, Laffy Happy Arcade, located at 16091 State Hwy 43 N., in Karnack, has been serving up food and fun for the entire family to enjoy.
A family-owned business, husband and wife Ernest and Chasity Crookshank, initially opened the business with a vision to provide a fun atmosphere for the local youth. Their children, who ranged in ages 3 to 16 at the time, were their greatest inspiration.
“It boiled down to the point, having six kids and having to take them places — everywhere — we thought why not bring the fun here; so that’s what we did,” said Ernest.
“First it came down to the point of it being just an arcade first,” said Ernest. “Then we kind of diversified it a little bit more with the restaurant and then the arcade.”
Their children — three girls and three boys — also helped bring the dream to life, providing their own input on the perfect name for the establishment.
“We came up with Laffy Happy when we were in the process of construction and you have to come up with a name for the business,” Ernest recalled. “The kids and all of us were thinking of names. I was sitting there. The whole time I was thinking of names, I was eating Laffy Taffies. We started saying different names, Laffy Laffy, and stuff like that. I was like nah.”
Not sold on the name “Laffy Laffy”, their children inspired them to add on the “Happy.”
“The kids were really crazy about Emojis at the time, so they were like: ‘Emojis; let’s do Emojis,” Chasity recalled.
Ernest loved it.
“I said: ‘Let’s just do Laffy Happy. That will work,’” he beamed.
They also pitched in decorating.
“The kids painted all the Emojis on the wall and stuff, so they got to help us,” said Chasity, sharing they even contributed their handprints to accent one of the colorful walls.
“The little one got to decorate the stars,” Chasity chuckled. “He thought he was something.
“We tried to make it where they all had (input),” she said.
The operation has been a rewarding experience for the Crookshanks. It’s become a whole family affair.
“It’s been fun. Family operated,” said Ernest, who also works as a log truck driver. “You’re teaching your upcoming kids entrepreneurship and all that good stuff, managing finances and all that too; so it’s an educational thing, too.”
The couple, who grew up in Karnack, is happy to bring their business to the community they love and call home.
The community has embraced the establishment, too. From the bright colors and animated themes that capture the attention of youngsters to the diverse selection of foods, the establishment offers something for all.
“Great food, great personality and customer service,” is what Ernest said customers will find at Laffy Happy.
“We brought a lot to the community, and it gives the kids around here something to do where they can walk across the street and just come over and have a little fun,” he said.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Laffy Happy’s arcade room played host to many birthday parties, karaoke, and special events.
“Pre-Covid, I don’t think you could’ve walked in here,” Ernest grinned. “We got to a point one time it was so crowded they parked out there on the highway, for kids birthday parties and all that stuff.”
The black light party features were always a hit. The establishment was likened to a Chuck E. Cheese, but with more flavor.
“Our stuff tastes way better, more favorable and at a better price,” Ernest teased. “And when we had our prize center, I mean you weren’t going to get 400 tickets and get a piece of bubble gum. You were actually going to get a good size toy.
“So there really wasn’t any profit in those games. It was just come in here, have fun and eat,” he said
But although the arcade games are temporarily closed to the public, Laffy Happy’s kitchen remains sizzling hot, preparing dozens of dine-in, delivery and pick-up orders.
The shrimp and crawfish stuffed potato is most popular as well as the stuffed turkey legs.
“They sell out so quick,” Chasity said of the turkey legs. “Sometimes within an hour, we’re sold out.
“It’s a popular item, but our shrimp and crawfish potato one goes the most,” she said.
When it comes to the food, Laffy Happy strives to provide something unique to satisfy the taste buds.
“(If) we pretty much can’t figure it out, we will; so that’s why our menu is full with all kinds of stuff that we know we can put together and make it taste just like it needs to taste,” said Ernest.
Burgers on the menu include the mushroom burger, shrimp burger, Jr. burger, cheese burger and traditional plain burger.
Wings range from garlic parmesan to barbecue, lemon pepper, Ranch, plain, hot and mild. Laffy Happy also offers salads, including shrimp salad and loaded salad. Customers can also build their own pizza or try one of Laffy Happy’s specialty pizzas, including taco pizza, meat lovers, supreme and veggie lovers.
Additionally, Laffy Happy’s popular turkey legs are stuffed with a choice of pulled pork; chicken fajita/chicken Alfredo; chicken, bacon, ranch; crawfish Alfredo; shrimp Alfredo; shrimp and crawfish Alfredo; or steak, grilled onion and bell pepper.
“Either plain or stuffed, either way, it falls off the bone,” Ernest has proudly demonstrated on Laffy Happy’s Facebook page.
In addition to the main menu items, Laffy Happy has also offered special dishes including stuffed nachos, inviting customers to build their own nachos stuffed with any topping of their choice, including shrimp, chicken, crawfish, hamburger meat, and “even a lil steak and onions.”
“Snow Krab Clusters” with sausage, corn and potatoes have also been available. And for Thanksgiving, Laffy Happy cooked up a special chicken and dressing turkey leg topped with giblet gravy and cranberry sauce.
They also had a Taffy slush available for a limited time only.
“We try to do something different all the time,” Chasity said.
“And offer something no one else has,” added Ernest.
A crafty person, Chasity also whips up fun, creative birthday cakes that can be purchased from Laffy Happy.
“It’s kind of unlimited things that can happen at Laffy Happy, especially if you pre-order and if you call ahead,” said Ernest.
For Valentine’s Day, Laffy Happy offered couples an assortment of coated strawberries infused with the choice of alcohol provided by the customer.
“We do Valentine baskets, Easter baskets, all kinds of stuff,” said Chasity.
Laffy Happy has become a favorite not only with local residents, but out-of-towners as well.
“I can say maybe 80 percent of the people that come in are outsiders,” sharing many stop through while visiting nearby Caddo Lake.
“Even from Shreveport, we have a lot of people that just come in to have a good time, talk, and visit,” said Chasity.
“We’ve met so many people and we love it,” she said.
Ernest echoed her sentiments. He’s become quite the local celebrity, known for his famous turkey legs.
“I was in Longview the other day and this guy said: ‘Don’t you own Laffy Happy?’ I’m like: ‘Yes,” he smiled.
It makes him feel good to know they are making waves, providing a good service.
“Being in this small area and you go to Longview or something like that and somebody points you out (speaks volumes),” said Ernest.
A COMMUNITY PARTNER
The business loves being a supportive community partner, hosting special holiday events such as Trunk or Treat for Halloween and a small fireworks display for Juneteenth, to name a few.
For Christmas, Laffy Happy teamed up with the town’s Family Dollar for the first annual Angel Tree Christmas toy drive. During the fundraiser they encouraged all to pick an angel off the tree and help someone in need.
Laffy Happy has also offered a 10 percent discount for healthcare, teachers and public services in appreciation for their services.
And during the winter storm, Laffy Happy also took care of customers, letting them know on their Facebook page that through “rain, sleet or snow, we’re cooking pizza dough and wings to go.”
Laffy Happy also supports the schools, making mums for homecoming and giving away free pizzas to award students with good grades.
“We’ll select kids in different grades. If they have excellent grades, we’ll give them a pizza party,” said Ernest.
The Crookshanks said they have new plans for Laffy Happy, too, including a possible franchise in Marshall, and expansion at its current location.
“When they come in here, when we get back to normal and 100 percent operational, you can come in here to be entertained, you come in here to get full. You come in here to get pleased,” said Ernest. “Rather you come in solo or bring the kids, you don’t even have to sit down and make that decision. We got something for you.”
Laffy Happy’s hours of operation are noon to 9 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 10 p.m. on the weekend. The business is closed Monday and Tuesday. The Crookshanks invites all to check out the establishment.
“Come have fun,” Ernest urged. “Like we always (say): ‘Have a Happy Laffy Day.’”