NAVARRE BEACH — Cajun foodies likely will be excited when a new tenant moves into a long-vacant restaurant building.
Broussard's Bayou Grill soon will move into the building at the corner of Gulf Boulevard and the Navarre Beach Causeway. Owner Carl Broussard said he hopes to have the restaurant open "as soon as possible."
"Depending on permits, the goal is Labor Day weekend or shortly after," he added.
Broussard said he noticed news reports about the vacant restaurant and owners who were "aggressively" seeking tenants.
"They wanted someone who was established, preferably local and in it for the long haul," he said.
Santa Rosa County commissioners expressed concerns in May about the building sitting vacant for the past two summers. The county-owned property has been leased to Palms of Navarre LLC, owned by Sylvia and James Martin since 2002. The lease requires the property to be operated as a restaurant from at least April 15 to May 15 annually.
Broussard's has been supplying the Panhandle with authentic bayou cuisine since the mid-1990s when Carl and his brother Cory opened Cajun Specialty Meats in Pensacola. The restaurant followed.
Broussard said customers can expect all of the core dishes from the Broussard's Pensacola menu and the addition of some "beach inspired" entrees. According to the Broussard's website, menu items include po' boys, crawfish etouffee, alligator bites and shrimp and grits. Market offerings will include the Cajun Specialty Meats line of meats and Heat-N-Eat entrees along with fresh seafood items to go.
"We're bringing the bayou to the beach," he said. "We're excited to expand our brand. We'll have the opportunity for retail as well. There will be live music with that deck we'd have, too."
There will be some small cosmetic changes to the restaurant, but mostly it is a turn-key property, Broussard said. Because the restaurant is not open during this year's tourist season, it will be up to locals to spread the word.
"We're relying on locals to coming over and getting across the bridge," he added. "We're ecstatic to bring our concept to one of the most beautiful beaches."