Bayou Café Brings a Taste of New Orleans to Savannah
The Bayou Café is a locally owned restaurant on River Street featuring original Cajun and Southern style cuisine. Owner Vince Zambito took over the family business in 2005 but has been a part of the restaurant since his dad Jerry Zambito opened the doors in 1991. “Dad loved music and always enjoyed playing with his band at a local restaurant in DC called the Bayou. Since Savannah didn’t have a Cajun restaurant at the time and the location on River Street reminded him of the Bayou up north he decided to call his new restaurant Bayou Café,” said Zambito.
Vince’s Dad, Jerry Zambito, grew up in Jacksonville, FL and started playing music at the age of 11. He got his first gig at the age of 13 and has been playing music ever since. In 1966 at the age of 15 Jerry played for the first time in Savannah. By 1973 he started playing as a regular on River Street at a local bar called the Port of Call (known today as Kevin Barry’s). It wasn’t long before other local bars and restaurants on River Street were booking his act multiple nights a week, which lead to him moving the family to Savannah.
Years after getting out of the music business Jerry decided to open the restaurant and coming as no surprise live music played a large role in creating the New Orleans style atmosphere. “We have always enjoyed featuring local bands, but we have also had our share of big name acts such as Molly Hatchet, The Black Crowes, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.” said J. Zambito. A little known fact that most visitors and locals don’t know about the restaurant is that local music is featured seven nights a week!
Music is not the only thing that draws customers to the restaurant and bar. The Cajun cuisine is just as much of a crowd pleaser. The recipes were created exclusively for the restaurant by a chef from Baton Rouge. When asked what his favorite dish was, V. Zambito replied, “It’s hard to pick just one, but the ones you need to make sure to try are the crawfish, jambalaya, alligator gumbo and any of our styles of the Cajun po’boy sandwich!” The Bayou Café can be found on River Street at the end of the Abercorn Street Ramp.
Pictured: Vince Zambito
Photograph by Scott Harris
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