What do you get when you pull culinary elements from Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Orleans and Pensacola, and you roll it all in some pretty blue branding?
You get Pensacola’s newest restaurant, the Blue Bayou Coffee Co.
Blue Bayou officially opened Wednesday as a family-owned, breakfast and lunch takeout restaurant that doubles as a coffee shop. The building is located at an aptly blue-painted former convenience store at 8701 Gulf Beach Highway, just north of the National Naval Aviation Museum.
A true family business, Blue Bayou is run by Bob and Karen Smith, along with their adult children, Dalton and Kristin Smith. The Maryland natives fell in love with Pensacola when the University of West Florida recruited Dalton to play college football for the Argonauts in 2015. Dalton ultimately chose to lace up his cleats elsewhere, but the Smith family was sold on Pensacola at that point. They made it their permanent residence in 2017.
“I grew up tying up apron strings with my grandmother in Maryland,” said Bob Smith, who is responsible for most, if not all, of what you’ll find on Blue Bayou’s menu. “It’s just a passion, I’ve always wanted to do it. I’ve always been the guy at the cookout where it’s like, ‘Hey, make sure you get some of whatever Bob brought.'”
Blue Bayou’s breakfast menu is sure to pique the interest of any breakfast food lover in the area, as it is chockful of breakfast taco, burrito and sandwich varieties. The morning menu was designed to be grab-and-go friendly for commuters.
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The barbacoa breakfast tacos have been a hit out of the gate, according to the owners. Their heavy Pennsylvania influence shines through particularly in Blue Bayou’s scrapple, egg and cheese biscuit sandwich. Scrapple is a northeastern fixture made of pork scraps and trimmings all cooked in cornmeal.
“We have some things we grew up eating that not everybody here is going to have like scrapple, spam,” Karen Smith said.
Blue Bayou sticks to the sandwich script for lunch, too, and serves a spicy chicken sandwich, a Cuban sandwich, a pulled pork sandwich, a shrimp salad sandwich and, digging deep into the company’s Maryland roots, a crab cake sandwich made with a 5-ounce Maryland-style fried lump crab cake, shredded lettuce, tomato and onion, served on a toasted brioche roll.
You’ll also find a hearty selection of taco styles, burgers, po’boys and baskets revolving around Maryland lump crab cake, crab fluff, fried oysters, chicken tenders and more.
“It’s food we like to eat,” Bob Smith said, concisely explaining his new restaurant’s concept. “Everything is made fresh. There’s nothing that comes out of the box here.”
Blue Bayou’s daily, fresh-brewed coffee — a facet of the business that is Karen Smith’s baby, in particular — comes in house blend and New Orleans blend flavors. The New Orleans blend is made of a Brazilian and chicory bean combination.
Bubble tea, smoothies and other cold drinks and sodas round out the beverages. Guests can be assured that all homemade drinks will never make you wince due to too much sugar.
“I’m diabetic so just in general there’s a lot of stuff here for people like me, who may go to other places and not have any options,” she said.
Blue Bayou plans to roll out different elements of its business in phases. Within a few weeks, the owners plan to expand into nightly evening hours. With that expansion will come the introduction of a New Orleans-style snoball snack counter.
Blue Bayou Coffee Co. also plans to become a sit-down restaurant within the next year, at which time it will add seating to its 3,000-square-foot property. For now, there is a lineup of small tables and chairs outside along the restaurant’s window that guests are welcomed to dine at.
The new takeout spot and coffee shop on Gulf Beach Highway is open from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Sundays.
Jake Newby can be reached at [email protected] or 850-435-8538.