Steamboat Bill’s, a new spot in town that will offer Cajun food is opening behind Toot’s on Broad Street. Pictured right is one of the owners, William ‘Steamboat Bill’ Vidrine. Photo by Travis Swann
Do you ever get a strong yearning for authentic and true Louisiana Cajun cuisine?
Start licking your lips because Steamboat Bill's Louisiana Seafood is coming to Murfreesboro, and will be located behind Toot’s and Reox Automotive in the Jackson Heights Shopping Center. The take-out eatery is set to open this weekend.
A business unlike its kind in Murfreesboro is owned by William “Steamboat Bill” Vidrine, who is from Lake Charles, La., and Murfreesboro resident Mark Pflanzer.
“When we organized the company in January of 2013, we set up a mobile seafood wagon in East Nashville in the Five Points area,” Pflanzer said. “It just took off and did really well, and we decided to expand with a carry-out building in Murfreesboro.
“When we organized this company “Steamboat Bill” has been in Lake Charles, La., for about 30 years – and he also owned a large restaurant in Hendersonville for about 13 years. Bill sold that restaurant about two years ago. We were able to get Bill out of retirement and join forces with us and create sort of a trimmed-down version of what that restaurant was.
“Our focus is providing the same good, quality food that’s authentic Louisiana Cajun cuisine, but doing it on a smaller scale.”
Almost all of the food items are regularly brought in from Louisiana, Pflanzer said.
“We have some items that get shipped, but otherwise, we make a trip to Louisiana each week, and that’s where we get all of our shrimp, crawfish, gumbo items, alligator, boudin, andouille and soft-shelled crabs,” he said. “Everything that we either sell that is fresh or prepared is all U.S. products, and all come out of Louisiana. Then the food that we’re going to prepare here, like the gumbos and etouffees and jambalaya’s, are all decades old Cajun recipes.”
The take-out eatery will feature fresh seafood, hot prepared items and frozen items.
“In this location, we’ll regularly make gumbos,” Pflanzer said. “We’ll do like a chicken sausage gumbo, we’ll do a seafood gumbo that will actually have shrimp and crab meat in it. Occasionally, we might do some with crawfish in it. We’ll do crawfish etouffeees. Generally, we will do jambalaya with a smoke chicken sausage or an andouille sausage.
“The items that we’re looking to carry – our gumbos, our etouffees, our jambalyas – will be prepared and ready to carry out. We’ll sell stuff that we will package, like gumbo that will be frozen and you can take home and put in your freezer. We’ll have fresh seafood, like shrimp and fresh oysters. We’ll have frozen seafood, like soft-shelled crabs and alligator meat, and we’ll have boudin that is fresh, as well as frozen.
“We may start getting some fish, depending on the availability and the prices. Fish is hard to deal with. You’ve got to make sure that it is good quality and fresh stuff. It doesn’t have a long shelf life.”
Pflanzer, who has lived in Murfreesboro for about 20 years, said he wanted to bring Steamboat Bill’s to Murfreesboro because there is nothing like its kind here.
“It’s something that is very unique to this area,” Pflanzer said. “I’ve not only lived in Murfreesboro for over 20 years, but I’ve also owned businesses over the years. So I’ve been a business owner, I’ve been a resident and I wanted to bring something to my community – something that I know is good quality stuff, and there is nothing like it.
“We wanted to bring something that was new, fresh and top quality, U.S. wild caught stuff and not a lot of stuff from the foreign markets. I’ve been partial to Murfreesboro for 21 years, so it was important to me that when we expanded out of Nashville to come where I consider to be my home town.”
The live crawfish and boudin are just two of Steamboat Bill’s specialty items.
“The live crawfish is one of our big specialties,” he said. “We know where to get it, we know how to transport it and we know to prepare it. We do private catering, so it’s not usual for us to bring in 6,000-8,000 pounds of crawfish in regularly. We will even teach you how to prepare it and boil it. Our boudin is not generic stuff. It’s true-to-form Cajun boudin. I ate a pound of it myself last night.”
Pflanzer pointed out that because he and Vidrine are veterans they will be giving back to the community in various ways.
“One thing we take pride in is we are American owned and veteran operated,” he said. “We do a charity boil for Operation Homefront. I served in Iraq and I know what it’s like. We want to give back to those guys. It’s at the top of my list.
“Bill served in the Cold War and I served in the first war in Iraq. We also do charity boils for churches for their mission trips. Bill has been in business a lot of years, and he’s one hell of a guy. He’s my partner, but he’s my mentor and he has taught me a lot.”
Store hours initially will be Wednesday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday from 10-6 p.m.
“We hope to initially go to six or seven days a week, but we want to see how it takes off,” Pflanzer said. “I think Murfreesboro will love it. It’s authentic Cajun cuisine at a very fair price.”