Trading in the sound of a generator for zydeco, blues, jazz and funk music, J.D. and Tricia O'Reilly found a permanent home for Bayou By You in Williams earlier this month.
After more than three years roaming around Flagstaff with their recognizably orange mobile kitchen, the two New Orleans natives permanently set up shop on West Route 66 in Williams.
When the two first started the truck in the summer of 2015, J.D. also worked as a paraprofessional at Flagstaff Junior Academy while Tricia worked at TGen North. The former quit his day job to work the Bayou By You truck full-time as soon as the school year ended, but the latter worked both until making the full-time move to Williams this month.
“We weren't looking for a restaurant the whole time, but Tricia has a sharp eye for things,” J.D. O'Reilly said. “Once you start a food truck, immediately people start saying ‘Where is your restaurant?’ The idea was there, but when she did find it, it was pretty obvious that there was no way she could dedicate 40 hours to a regular job and do this.”
Plans for the new location came together quickly, with the paperwork beginning in late July before the two first set foot in the restaurant Aug. 9 and opened Sept. 8. The two, who are the only employees of their own business, fully renovated and repaired the spot ahead of opening, with new equipment arriving from across the country.
Among the noticeable details added to the restaurant include alligator skin-printed cushions on the seating, crawfish traps hanging from the ceiling, and their traditional orange and green color scheme freshly painted inside.
“When the deal was hammered out, it was a mad rush to open,” said J.D., as the couple sold their mobile kitchen about a week after announcing the move publicly. “When the opportunity arose, we jumped on it as fast as possible. It's not like we sat around for six months making this deal happen. It has been crazy.”
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Regular customers of Bayou By You will still see the same familiar menu as they have for years, with a few slight additions for now. Blessed with a little more space to work with in Williams, J.D. and Tricia added a traditional pork version of their red beans and rice to the menu, joining the vegan option available since opening.
As has been the case since starting the business, the menu remains gluten free on every single item while a tofu version of their étouffée also joined the menu since opening in 2015. Bayou By You also increased its sourcing of items coming from Louisiana, with the shrimp, crawfish, andouille sausage and pickled pork all arriving from the O'Reillys' home state.
Additionally, the two handpick and hand chop all their own vegetables from local stores in order to better guarantee their quality before spending as much as 24 hours cooking ahead of the restaurant's four-day weekly schedule. The Creole and Cajun menu will remain the same for now, with the four entrees of gumbo, jambalaya, étouffée, and red beans and rice producing seven different options, though daily specials could be an option in the future.
The move to downtown Williams came for a variety of reasons, with a lease at their new location significantly cheaper than the alternative in Flagstaff. While the two still live in Flagstaff, the commute to Williams is a simple one for the couple to do Friday through Monday, with lunch beginning at 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. before reopening for dinner from 4:30 to 8 p.m.
After moving around the first two years in Flagstaff, in addition to serving at special events, Bayou By You consistently remained at Express Liquors on Highway 89 for the past year.
“This year, we kind of did an experiment and sat still on the east side,” Tricia said. “That did give us the confidence, because we were able to develop regular clientele and felt like we were in a position to move forward.”
J. D. said the size of the new location in Williams was perfect for the two to maintain on their own, and the location on Route 66 fit the environment the two sought since originally opening.
“We are leaving for a market that is better for us for sure,” J.D. said. “Where would I want to plant my crops? I have my seeds and to plant my crops, the soil is better in Williams.”