Sea Ranch Cafe

Sea Ranch Cafe

Brian Landry’s experience epitomizes mom-and-pop. He grew up working in his father’s grocery store in Port Neches — Rodney’s Hello Grocery Store. Father and son ventured into the restaurant business together with Landry’s Cajun Eatery, but his father retired in 2001 and later passed away in 2012.

Brian has carried on his dad’s entrepreneurial spirit, however, by opening his own restaurant — Sea Ranch Cafe — in 2004. After his mother, Gloria, retired, she went to work with her son at the restaurant, which was busy with plant workers popping in for lunch when The Examiner visited Monday, Aug. 21.

“I grew up in grocery stores and delis,” Brian told us. “That led into catering and then the restaurant. I just wanted (Sea Ranch) to have a mom-and-pop feel to it. I’m not big on chains.”

This restaurant has a little something for everyone. In addition to menu items that range from everything from seafood to barbecue, Brian, who’s also in the deer processing business, sells delicacies like pickled okra, quail eggs, green tomatoes and homemade sausage, beef jerky, cracklins and other hard-to-find treats.

We ran into Sinclair Broadcasting’s James Ware upon our visit. Ware is a regular at his hometown’s restaurant and actually grew up with the owner, Brian. Ware, who you probably know from KFDM and KBTV, said his son Jansen, 12, is a big fan of the cracklins and asks for them every time he visits.

“He’s gone through some cracklins over the years,” Ware said.

Brian, however, takes a break from making them in the summer due to the heat, he told us. Although he used to offer them year-round, standing over a cast-iron pot in the middle of August with close to 100-degree temperatures can get pretty taxing, Brian said.

“You have to stand over them and stir and stir and stir,” said Brian, who added Sea Ranch Cafe makes its own Cajun seasoning as well. “We go through about 200 pounds a week of cracklins.”

No worries though, because Sea Ranch will begin selling cracklins again when temperatures cool off in the fall. Customers should start seeing them at the restaurant again in mid-September, Brian said.

Having never been to Sea Ranch before, we asked Gloria about some of the restaurant’s favorite menu items.

Gloria recommended the combo platter of two fish and six shrimp, which comes with two hushpuppies. She also suggested the old-fashioned cheeseburger, which we ordered with all the fixins on a jalapeño bun. We chose fries for both but had the option to order a green salad instead. We just weren’t feeling like healthy eaters during this visit.

Because we knew Brian grew up in a Cajun family, we decided to try his chicken and sausage gumbo as well.

Everything was top notch and after our main course, another regular customer, Matt Henry, recommended a dessert for us.

“The bread pudding is the best I’ve ever had,” he said.

After a little investigation, we discovered that the bread pudding is a family recipe that Gloria began making decades ago. In fact, Gloria is responsible for all the restaurant’s dessert recipes, her son said.

“I’ve been making it forever,” she said. “Too long to remember.”

The restaurant has a steady catering business as well.

“We’re in pretty much every plant,” Brian said.

We got a bag of beef jerky on our way out and were delighted when we opened it up back at the office — some of the best we’ve had in quite some time.

So next time you are in the Mid-County area, support a local business by giving Sea Ranch Cafe a visit. Business hours are Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Closed on weekends. Call (409) 722-6057 for more information or follow Sea Ranch Cafe on Facebook @greatlocalfood. Out of 138 reviews, the restaurant got 4.8 out 5 stars. Sea Ranch Cafe is at 1305 Magnolia Ave. in Port Neches.

Don’t forget to try the restaurant’s beer bucket specials!