Dig Baton Rouge

Bullfish Bar + Kitchen owners use fashion background to influence restaurant

From small town Louisiana to the skyscrapers of New York City, Kay and Carey LeGrange have seen it all.
Now, they want to bring all they’ve learned back to the Bayou State.
The LeGranges, a married couple of 32 years, are owners of The Bullfish Bar + Kitchen on Nicholson Drive. Inspired by their work and travels in the fashion industry, they decided to relocate to Baton Rouge in January. After 25 years of being away, the two wanted to come home and take everything they have learned, seen and experienced over the course of their careers to begin work on the development of their restaurant’s concept.
“We lived in great cities and tried many different restaurants,” Kay said. “We’ve also traveled a lot in our jobs and vacationed a lot in the Caribbean, where Carey got his inspiration to create this Caribbeana-style restaurant (Louisiana-Caribbean cuisine). He’s a conceptualist and extremely creative, and he is really motivated by so many different things everyday that I’m constantly amazed at his focus and what he sees. I think much more strategically, and I’m more analytical. The way his brain works is so different from mine, but that’s what makes us a good team for building this unique restaurant.”
Carey, originally from Baton Rouge, grew up in a Cajun fishing village called Bayou Pigeon in Plaquemine, Louisiana, where his parents owned a restaurant and bar called LeGrange’s Camp. As a teenager, he experienced firsthand what being in a restaurant was like, complete with Cajun staples such as a dance hall, bar and picnic ground. It was an authentic bayou experience.
After Carey attended and graduated high school in Plaquemine, he moved to Baton Rouge and decided to go into the fashion commerce. Inspired by an uncle who owned various clothing stores, he took an interest in the clothing business and decided to open up his very own boutique with his sister. From there, he navigated into sales, where he went on the road and represented his apparel brands to numerous manufacturers, such as department stores like Dillard’s and JCPenney.
Kay has a similar fashion background. She moved to Baton Rouge to be a buyer for the Goudchaux’s department store back when it was a big employer during the ‘80s, and she met Carey through mutual acquaintances in the fashion design industry. The couple met when Carey was a co-owner of a trendy store called The Innovator. Kay and Carey started dating, and the rest is history.
Later, Carey opened a restaurant with his family called Café LeGrange. After its success, Kay and Carey decided to leave Baton Rouge around 1991 to further pursue their careers in fashion. They moved to Los Angeles, then San Francisco and finally settled in New York City in 2000. There, Kay was an executive in the fashion industry and worked for well-known brands like Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Hanky Panky, and eventually rose to the position of president for both men’s and women’s underwear at Calvin Klein in 2005.
To get away from the hectic fashion world, Kay and Carey would go down to Florida Keys a lot, where Key West (90 miles from Cuba) is part of the Caribbean. They started traveling there during their vacation time to explore Carey’s family history, which is displayed on storyboards in the restaurant. This is where the fusion of Louisiana and Caribbean cuisine style Carey calls Caribbeana started.
“All of the maps of the Caribbean islands shown here, Kay and I have rom the 1600s,” Carey said.
After their travels and their work, Kay and Carey made the decision to come back to Carey’s hometown, Baton Rouge, and open another restaurant to utilize everything they learned about marketing, consumer focus and branding.
Carey wanted to open a place where it would be inviting to both families and adults, so it has both a full bar and kitchen.
The Bullfish Bar + Kitchen’s theme is Caribbean-style and deep-sea fishing inspired. They have Bullfish fixtures mounted on the wooden walls and the latest technology in TV’ with the highest resolution available on the market. But the main attraction is the restaurant’s product.
Their bar top is made from cypress wood with a live edge, and the tables are covered with reclaimed wood with glass over it to keep it weathered. Everything in the kitchen is handcrafted, including all of the mixers at the bar. Each of their dishes makes use of Cajun and Caribbean seasoning, with one example being the mussels served with Thai Curry Sauce. Carey’s family was known for having the best bread pudding in the ‘80s, so the restaurant will serve a new bread pudding special each week. The restaurant aims to be cohesive with everything from the food to the décor.
“It’s all cohesive – the dining room, the tables, the bar, the décor, and the menu. Everything was thought of. It’s a complete comprehensive process,” Carey said.
But at the end of the day, the LeGranges strive to have fun while still learning.
“It’s funny because I keep saying that this is so much fun,” Kay said. “I’m eating great food everyday and just enjoying the change. One of the things that is motivating for me in my career is to learn and grow, and this is any opportunity where I’m learning. I understand the fundamentals of serving the customer, and I’ve been doing that for 30 years of my career. This is a new opportunity and a new way of learning, and it’s just really fun.”

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