August 21st, 2019 10:52 AM
Get to crackin': (Above) Oak Parkers Joniqua Clay (left) and Kiarra Burnett enjoys shrimp and crab legs lunch special at Cajun Boil & Bar. | TIMOTHY INKLEBARGERR/Staff
On a Friday afternoon in Oak Park's Pleasant District, the music is thumping, and while the 200-seat Cajun Boil & Bar isn't packed, the restaurant has attracted a solid crowd of about a dozen tables.
"It's not a quiet restaurant," said co-owner and managing partner Kurtis Lott. "It's like your backyard picnic where you're talking to friends and you're talking to family and you're cracking open some crawfish and some king crab legs and snow crab legs."
He said the spot, which opened less than two weeks ago at 1109 South Blvd., is the perfect place for a Friday lunch.
"The weekend is almost there, and maybe you've got some plans going on — we can kind of be your pre-game," he said, taking breaks during the interview to answer phone calls and direct newly trained staff.
Cajun Boil & Bar is the newest restaurant in the downtown area, and the newest location for Lott and company, which opened a location in Oak Brook last October and another in Orland Park in March. The fourth location is expected to open in September in Joliet.
Oak Parkers Joniqua Clay and Kiarra Burnett were among the new customers enjoying a shrimp and crab legs lunch special. While they agreed to be interviewed, nothing was slowing them down as they dug into their spicy Cajun meal.
"It's our first time," Clay said, adding that she used to have to drive all the way to Oak Brook before the new location opened in her backyard.
"We heard about it from our family," she said, noting that the lunch special was "not too spicy."
Meanwhile, Burnett finished off one of Cajun Boil & Bar's signature voodoo drinks.
Lott said the "voodoo juices" come in two different styles: "We have our Tropical Storm, which is a pretty rough storm, but we also have the Category Five, which is the monster."
The full bar is one of the big things that distinguishes Cajun Boil & Bar from its competitors, Lott said, but the restaurant's seafood boils are the main attraction.
"We do a lot of Louisiana Cajun-style dishes — po' boy sandwiches, our catfish is phenomenal, our gumbo is next to none," he said.
While the food and drinks are the main attraction, the lively atmosphere, which transports patrons down to the bayou, is a key element that Lott is betting will have customers coming back.
"How fitting," he said. "You have a one-of-a-kind restaurant in a one-of-a-kind town. It's a match made in heaven."
Lott and company are planning a grand opening event for early September, and over the next few months will begin offering delivery, catering and a brunch menu.
"It's all about our atmosphere. It's all about our sauce. It's all about our environment," he said.
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