MILTON — Mike Cosse, New Orleans native and restaurateur, is preparing to open Cosse’s Place, Milton’s newest restaurant.

The eatery is set to open this month at 5365 Stewart St., where Shuckums Raw Bar and Grill once sat, and will offer a menu of authentic Creole cuisine.  

Cosse has more than 30 years' experience in the industry; he served as an executive chef at multiple hotels across the country and owned a catering business at one time. Now, he said, it was time to do something for himself.

Cosse and his fiancée, Carolanne Savage — a silent partner in the business — closed on the building in mid-August. Since then, they have renovated the entire building from top to bottom.

New Orleans-themed artwork acquired from Louisiana, as well as pieces done by local artist Joannie Hughes, line the walls of the restaurant. Cosse made the tables himself and constructed light fixtures out of pieces of a dilapidated deck that washed up at his home on the Blackwater River. Light blues music will play in the background as guests enjoy their meals.

“It feels like New Orleans in here,” Cosse said.

The restaurant is almost complete, Cosse said. He began the hiring process Nov. 1 with approximately 10 prospective employees and a small group of loyal members returning to work with him, including Cassie Wolniewicz, Cosse’s executive assistant and bar manager.

Aside from the main sitting area, the restaurant will include an area for to-go orders, as well as a bar area. Cosse and Savage built the countertops in both areas themselves out of wood and dozens of oyster shells they shucked and cleaned by hand.

“The biggest message is that this is traditional, authentic New Orleans cuisine,” Cosse said. “It’s not a fad; it’s old and it’s proven.”

Cosse said his menu is already prepared and rather large, highlighting the various influences — ranging from African American, German, Spanish and Italian — on Creole-style food. The restaurant will offer weekly specials, which will be tailored to its customer base.

“It’s all about the team,” Cosse said. “It’s all about the people.”

Cosse said he's grateful to Savage for pushing him to do what he loves after years of working for others.

“We’re in this together,” Cosse said.

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