Lunch-goers on Newport's York Street might notice customers packed elbow-to-elbow at the 30-foot bar in a new restaurant where Mokka and Pinky Sue's Smokehouse once stood.
It's crowded, but this isn't a drinking crowd. The folks at the bar are there for seafood, thanks to the Bayou Fish House
, which opened July 25.
Grant Gieseler opened the store in July after noticing a gap in the range of local restaurants' offerings.
"We haven't had good fried fish in Northern Kentucky for as long as I can remember," he says.
With experience in a variety of restaurants, a stint as assistant maître d' at the Metropolitan Club in Covington, and ownership of another restaurant (the Hayloft Tavern in Alexandria) on his resume, Gieseler and his team renovated the Newport restaurant in a month.
The standing bar substitutes for tables and chairs, and cooking happens in view of customers.
"I wish we had a professional photographer here today," Gieseler says, to photograph a recent capacity lunch crowd enjoying themselves
Gieseler is focused on serving neighborhood and daytime business, rather than the nightclub crowd. He plans to expand his hours later in the evening and to seven days a week this winter.
Tom Fromme, Newport city manager, says staff members who have eaten at Bayou Fish House report good things. He says, too, that he's pleased a vacant building is back in productive use.
Fromme explains that the building is in Newport's main street district, a popular site for restaurants. "The area is ready to explode when the market recovers," he says.
Gieseler says he's been happy with customer response thus far. The restaurant offers four varieties of fried fish and gumbo. "The menu doesn't offer a large selection, but what we do is perfect," he says.By Andy Dobson