Cajun cuisine coming to downtown Wilson

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Cajun cuisine coming to downtown Wilson

Historic downtown Wilson is getting a new eatery for lunch and dinner that the owner said will not only offer a menu unique to the area, but also an atmosphere similar to his inspiration — the Big Easy.

Da Bayou is set to open by the end of January at the corner of Goldsboro and Barnes streets. The inclusion of oysters on the menu is about the only similarity, though, between owner James Fountain’s third restaurant and the previous tenant of the 5,000-square-foot restaurant and patio at 124 Barnes St. SW, Heroes.

“Could I open this place the way it is?” he said. “Sure, but I don’t want to do that because it needs some change.”

Fountain said Da Bayou will have some similarities to his restaurant, Savannah’s Oyster House, in Blowing Rock but will draw more inspiration from Cajun cuisine.

“Da Bayou offers a relaxed, casual atmosphere while offering authentic cuisine from New Orleans and the Lowcountry,” he said. “From po’ boys with Leidenheimer bread shipped weekly from New Orleans to Lowcountry boils and other flavorful steam pots, our menu brings the vibrant Cajun flavors to downtown Wilson.”

In addition to a deep clean and fresh paint, Fountain said he plans to add a reclaimed wood wall, expose the brick and change the layout a bit. While many of the structural changes are aesthetic, he said he is going to make some improvements to cater to the limited lunch breaks of downtown employees.

“I’m excited about what Wilson is doing in downtown, and I hope to be a part of that,” he said. “I’m ready to develop with downtown and be a part of this community.”

In order to operate Savannah’s in the mountains as well as Da Bayou, Fountain is bringing best friend Chris Lavoie in to manage the Wilson eatery. Lavoie, who is a co-owner of Savannah’s, and Fountain plans to hire waiters, bartenders and cooks around the first week of January. For more information, email DaBayouWilson@yahoo.com.

Fountain said from the time he first came to Wilson with his family to consider opening a business, the community has welcomed him.

“I’m excited about the partnership opportunities with everyone,” he said. “That is how it worked out in Blowing Rock. There are a lot of restaurants in Blowing Rock, but they all welcomed us because more competition brings more people. The same has been true with other business owners in Wilson.”

He is eager to open the doors and share the Da Bayou take on flavors from his childhood in Georgia and vacations to New Orleans. The menu still is being ironed out, but Fountain said customers can expect fresh, quality dishes with ingredients caught, not farmed, and delivered five days a week.

“This is a great building in a great location, and the outdoor patio sells this place,” he said. “Da Bayou will match that with great food in a laid-back environment.”

Business relocation

After two years in business, Education Exchange owner Crystal Barber has made some changes, including the location.

Barber opened the tutoring and teacher supply shop in the Forest Hills Plaza after 15 years as a third-grade teacher to focus more on helping individual students. Education Exchange grew to a staff of 11 certified and licensed teachers, while also offering educational products through consignment — the latter of which has been abandoned.

“When I decided to get rid of the retail, it was like restarting the business,” she said. “I wanted to find a place that was large enough for tutoring, but affordable.”

She partnered with fellow Forest Hills Plaza businesswoman Sandi Bailey in leasing the former storefront of a shoe repair shop in Brentwood. Bailey is selling some decorative accessories in the front of the shop, but the space in the front and back is primarily designed to be used for teaching.

The one-on-one tutoring for all age students is the most popular service at Education Exchange, but Barber said she’s eager to provide more enrichment classes for kids and adults.

“I’m trying to get some art classes together for like the home-schoolers to do,” she said. “Those classes are a chance for retired teachers and homeschool parents to branch out and get involved.”

The business is open on weekdays with limited availability on the weekends. For more information, visit www.educationexchangellc.com/.

“I want Education Exchange to be a place where parents can not only bring their kids to get help, but also a place of lifelong learning for adults as well,” she said.

Extra! Extra!

After nearly 40 years at 227 Nash St., Fred Sauls Reupholstery Shop will soon have a new address.

The city recently purchased 227-231 Nash St. E. and was given the adjoining building at 221-225 Nash St. E., so tenants received notice of the sale in September and were given through the end of October to vacate. Sauls said a lawyer pushed the eviction back to mid-January, and he’s been working to find a new location.

The first week of January, Fred Saul Reupholstery Shop will be open for business at 109 Bruton St. in the Walston Center off Nash Street. The shop can be reached at 252-291-2279.

“We look forward to continuing to serve current customers along with future customers in this new space,” Saul said.

Got an idea for news to include in next week’s Main Street Minute? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 252-265-7821 or bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com.