Many Owensboro residents head south to Panama City, Florida for vacation, but the coastal city will soon be sending exports north to Owensboro as well — they’ll just be on ice.
Bubba Gandy Seafood Cajun X Market is set to open on August 10 in Halifax Square on Frederica St. The market will offer fresh, wild-caught seafood along with a wide assortment of Cajun sides and seasonings. Fish will go from the Gulf of Mexico to the new market within 48 hours according to Carene Sater, an Owensboro businesswoman who is opening the store with the help of Chuck and Chantel Gandy, who have opened three previous Bubba Gandy Markets in Tennessee.
Sater said the store will carry a variety of seafood, including grouper, red snapper, ahi tuna, halibut, mahi mahi, ahi salmon, scallops, oysters, crabs and more. They’ll also have live crawfish during season.
The cajun side of the market will carry up to 150 items, including nine different soups and chowders made in the company’s commercial kitchen in Florida. They will also carry heat-and-serve jambalaya and dirty rice, frog legs, gator meat, Zapps potato chips and much more.
The store does not include a sit-down restaurant. The only food cooked in-house will be shrimp and crawfish boils with corn, potatoes and sausage. Sater said she will post a wall of recipes and will also be available to give advice on seafood preparation and pairing. The store will bring the laid-back Florida beach vibe to Owensboro with a bright, colorful design similar to a fresh seafood market on the coast. “It’s like walking into Florida when they (the customers) walk into the front door,” Chantel Gandy said.
While the Gandys are family to Sater (their son is the father of her three children, but he and Sater are now divorced), she couldn’t have picked a more experienced couple as her seafood suppliers. Chuck Gandy’s family has been running Buddy Gandy Seafood Market in Panama City since 1955 – it’s the oldest and largest seafood market in town. Chuck and Chantel Gandy named their stores after his father (“Bubba”) when they decided to branch out to towns farther north that had no access to a fresh seafood supply.
On Sundays, Chuck Gandy orders fish for the Bubba Gandy markets from boats headed out to fish through Sunday night. He picks up his order Monday morning in Panama City — the fish are gutted, cleaned and left whole — and a truck delivers them to each store by Tuesday night at the latest. Leaving the fish whole preserves them much longer, he said. Sater said she will then cut fish filets to order when customers come in the market. They will repeat the process with fresh fish each week.
The store represents an all-in effort for Sater, who lost her job at a large local bank in March after seven years there. Her in-laws had mentioned in passing that she would be a good store owner, so she called them up and cashed in all of her savings to get the market off the ground. With no safety net, she says she’s driven to provide for her kids, and with a business administration degree, she’s always had the desire to start a business. “My kids are every bit of my motivation,” she said. “My children are my life.”
Bubba Gandy is located at 3600 Frederica St, Suite K (in Halifax Square). Their number is 270-240-4456.