Coast Cuisine - June 2020
- Story by Lisa Monti, photos by Ellis Anderson
Cuz’s Old Town Oyster Bar & Grill is seeing a steady stream of customers at their popular beachfront location seven days a week, especially on weekends. Diners gravitate to the shady courtyard for a seat at a table under a large umbrella or to an inside spot with views of all the activity in the popular downtown area.
Melvin “Cuz” Barnes and wife, Christy, are longtime restaurateurs who opened Cuz’s in 2004 on Mississippi 603 and moved it to Old Town in September 2016. They and their employees work hard to keep Cuz’s small-town, down-home atmosphere and to offer hard-to-beat seafood, pasta, appetizers and sides.
Cuz’s reopened recently after a four-week pandemic shutdown with all the necessary precautions and practices, and customers – new and old, local and out of towners – are turning up seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
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“We’ve been very busy,” Cuz Barnes said. “The whole beach is staying busy.” He noted that Cuz’s was preparing to host a private party that very weeknight.
The menu is a bit smaller these days but is still packed with Cuz’s top sellers. Royal Reds and oysters, raw or chargrilled, top the menu and sell at market price. Appetizers include staples like gumbo, crab cakes and bisque as well as some uniquely named items such as swamp or sloppy fries.
Po’ boys in half or whole versions are made with Leidenheimer, the crispy New Orleans French bread, that comes overstuffed with shrimp, oysters, catfish, alligator or roast beef. Fresh seafood also is featured on shrimp, catfish or oyster plates. The two entrees – Ahi Tuna Steak and Blackened Redfish – come with a side salad and a side. If pasta is your choice, pick Alfredo or Scampi and add chicken, shrimp, oyster, Ahi tuna or soft shell crab to your pasta (or house salad).
The fresh local seafood that’s grilled, fried or boiled at Cuz’s is some of the best you will ever eat, and it’s a big reason customers come back again and again. The half po’ boy I had recently for lunch was loaded with fresh shrimp, expertly fried to a crunchy finish. The shrimp that toppled out of the bread were nice to nibble on between bites of the generous sandwich. The pasta scampi to my left and the oyster po’ boy to the right both looked delicious and got thumbs up. The French fries were hot and crispy and plentiful enough to share.
Cuz says he’s seeing his regular local customers returning to the restaurant along with guests mainly from Louisiana and Hattiesburg. The gradual opening of the retailers and restaurants has been welcome in the especially important summer season. “Every day is busy,” he said.
Cuz’s Old Town Oyster Bar & Grill
108 S. Beach Blvd., Bay St. Louis, MS 39520
Phone: (228) 467-3707
Open Mon-Thurs 11am – 8pm, Fri-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 11am-6pm