Frank and Judy Ouzts, owners of Papa’s Barbecue and Seafood, have got lots of reasons to celebrate — 45 of them to be exact.
Known for their smoked barbecue, signature sauces and quality customer service, the Whitemarsh Island restaurant is celebrating its 45th anniversary Monday.
“It’s perseverance,” Frank said, reflecting over the past 45 years.
“One of the things we try to drive home is, no matter the circumstances, we never sacrifice the quality or service we offer here”
The original Papa’s was a small carry-out restaurant located on West Bay Street, which opened in 1972 with Frank’s father at the helm. After his father passed away in 1974, Frank took over the business.
In 1990, the restaurant moved to a 1,200 square-foot location on Whitemarsh Island where they stayed for 18 years before moving across the street into their current location at 119 Charlotte Road.
“We built this from the ground up,” Judy said of the current location.
On Monday, the party will be about more than just celebrating good food, though, the Ouzts are using it as a way to give back to the local community, which Judy said is something they always strive to do.
A portion of Monday’s sales, along with raffle ticket proceeds, will be donated to the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision. Buying anything to eat or drink will get you a raffle ticket and additional tickets will also be for sale for a chance to win more than a dozen prizes donated from various area businesses.
Local talent Danielle Hicks will also be auctioning off a private concert as the grand prize, and they’ll also have live music from Willie Jackson and the Tybee Blues Band.
“It’s our 45th anniversary and a fundraiser, and it’s going to be fun. We’ve got all sorts of giveaways and prizes,” Judy said of the event.
“… And Willie Jackson actually worked at the original Papa’s on Bay Street, so there’s a bit of history there.”
Looking back and moving forward
There have been some changes over the last four decades though. The Ouzts’ have become very active on social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram as a way to stay connected with customers, some of which became customers in the early 1970s.
“A lot of these customers that have been eating with us for so long have become our friends. We met them out on Bay Street,” Frank said.
The Ouzts’ have tweaked the expansive menu over the years, but all the food is still cooked fresh and made-to-order and you’ll still find the original barbecue on two buns, but if you prefer a brisket or fish tacos they’ve got those, too.
“Because we have so many regular customers we try to offer them some diversity,” Frank said.
“We do seasonal specials; we do corn beef and cabbage around St. Patrick’s Day and bratwurst and potato salad during October.”
“We’ve got something for everyone,” Judy added.
Along with those signature food items, there are some other things that don’t change.
“Consistently good food, they know what they’re going to get when they walk in the door,” Judy said.
“Consistently good food and service — like our tagline says, making hungry people happy since 1972 and that’s what we do.”