Veteran restaurateur Carey LeGrange has returned to his native Baton Rouge after 16 years in New York City to open a Caribbean-Louisiana fusion seafood restaurant, The Bullfish Bar+Kitchen, at 4001 Nicholson Dr., Suite D.
The restaurant had a soft opening three weeks ago and has been serving dinner nightly. But once LSU students return for the fall semester in mid-August, the restaurant will also be open for lunch.
LeGrange, who co-owns and operates the restaurant with his wife, Kay, previously owned a seafood restaurant in the 1980s on South Acadian Thruway called Café LeGrange. It was later sold and operated under the name Café Louisiana.
In the years since, the couple has worked in the fashion industry and lived in California and New York, where Kay LeGrange was an executive with Calvin Klein. But upon retiring, the couple decided to return to their native Louisiana and open a seafood restaurant.
Carey LeGrange has been looking for space for his new venture for a couple of years. He believes the location near the South Gates of LSU has a lot of potential, not only because of the LSU community, but because of all the growth along the Highland Road-Burbank Drive corridor.
But he acknowledges the space—which has housed three unsuccessful restaurants in as many years—doesn’t have a great track record. Earlier this year, Marty J.’s Seafood, Burgers and Poboys closed after less than a year in business. Prior to that, the space housed Leroy’s and Cou-Yon’s.
Carey LeGrange says his years in the fashion industry have taught him the importance of branding, marketing and ambience, something he believes his predecessor tenants may not have understood.
The Bullfish Bar+Kitchen is a concept restaurant that seeks to create what LeGrange describes as an “island swamp, beach feeling,” with a lot of old cypress on the walls and a large, mounted bullfish behind the bar, which will be stocked with a variety of rums and craft liquors.
“It’s a very approachable kind of feel,” he says. “It’s not stiff or snobby.”
The menu will feature mostly seafood, but also include chicken and beef dishes that are inspired both by Caribbean and Louisiana cuisines.
“It’s Caribiana,” he says. “That’s going to be our signature identity.”