Bayou Boys are a success

 

Turns out a cupful of friendship is a much-needed ingredient for a group of restaurateurs in the Lehigh Valley.

The so-called 'Bayou Boys' have opened five businesses in the last four years, but for them success lies in building a bond with the community.

The Bayou Boys are still gazing into a future that's pretty bright. Christian Duarte, Mo Taylor and Jerry Straub are part of the driving force behind five restaurants in the Lehigh Valley but say it's the whole team that makes their business a success.

"We love what we do. We're in the hospitality industry and that's everything to us." said Taylor.

The three met over a decade ago as employees of the now-defunct Starter's Riverport in Bethlehem. While working hard there, they had a vision, but didn't act on it until Starter's closed and the three reconnected.

"It's a really scary thing to go and start your own business. The outpouring from friends, family, and strangers quite frankly has been amazing," said Straub.

The connections built over time, and outpouring of support has led to five businesses since 2014. The Bayou in Bethlehem and Easton, Grain and Queen City BBQ in Allentown and newly-opened Wiz Kidz, in Bethlehem.

Grain closed in back in July, even while the group was planning to open Wiz Kidz.

"We knew going into it that it was early. You talk about our following and everything like that. Our following helped keep it open for the two years that it was open," said Taylor.

One reason for closing Grain was the atmosphere. The owners say the space needs to be more open to cater to the residents of downtown Allentown more like a set up of QCB.

They call Grain a learning experience, the same as creating five unique menus. But the question remains what's their favorite? You know, dishes that define the Bayou Boys.

All agree the fried chicken, which has been voted the best in the Lehigh Valley four years in a row.

"There's definitely others that people rank up there with some of the best they've ever had," said Duarte.

The guys say don't forget the shrimp and grits at Bayou or the ribs at Queen City. Good food, and owners that say their success is because of so many friends are sitting at their tables.

"I don't think we look at ourselves as special people, and that's why this is working. I think we look at ourselves as lucky people who have been supported," said Straub.