broadway oyster bar staff photo by ashley gieseking

Broadway Oyster Bar, your Readers' Choice Favorite Cajun/Creole

Meet some of the Broadway Oyster Bar staff: From left, Casey Donavan, Donna Hornachek, Josh Chartrand, Tory Johnson, Blair Govero, Mike Bridgeman, Brett Johnson, Bobby King, Kathryn Pilch, Jenny Hammond, Stefanie Ricci, Michelle Vessells, Brad Zipprich

Why did readers vote Broadway Oyster Bar the Best Cajun/Creole restaurant in St. Louis for the 12th year running? Because the menu is packed with the tastiest oysters, crawfish, crab legs and alligator north of NOLA. We sat down with owner John Johnson and his staff to find out what it’s like to work in a place that’s impossible to define with customers who defy stereotyping. As the seasoned, snarky waitstaff tells it, they love each other almost as much as they love the food, and they can always find something to laugh about, even after a 15-hour shift. Just don’t ask for separate checks.

What dishes do you snarf on back in the kitchen?
The alligator sausage and shrimp cheesecakes, crawfish enchiladas, Crawfish Mona. – Mike Bridgeman, server

What’s it like to work during a Cardinals day game?
You get to see the beginning and then (the fans) come back, and sometimes they take the same table. I’ll think, Oh my gosh, you were so different earlier. You did a lot of drinking in three hours! – Michelle Vessells, server

Fill in the blank. Whatever you do, don’t order the:
Mozzarella sticks and toasted ravioli. We don’t have that stuff. – Kathryn Pilch, server

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen a customer do?
Eat a whole bucket of boiled crawfish. – John Johnson

Why is that strange?
He ate the whole thing. Seriously, the whole bucket. Shells, heads and all. – Stephanie Ricci, server

Tell me a musician story.
Dick Dale, he’s the King of Surf Guitar … he was playing with a cordless guitar. All of the sudden – (he’s) an older guy – he jumped down off the stage, walked through the crowd, all the way out the front door. Everyone was like, ‘Where’d he go?’ He went around the corner, over to the White Castle, and walked through the drive-thru. His whole band is still playing on stage. The car that’s getting served pulls away and he walks up, with his guitar, playing, and sticks his head in the window. He just felt like going over and saying hi. He never stopped playing. Obviously everyone went crazy. – Johnson

When is it hard to be a server here?
When you try to (serve) the food, and no one responds to you. You ask, “Who had the jambalaya?” and nobody knows what they ordered. – Bridgeman

What do you do when someone orders something right before the kitchen closes?
We smile, and serve them, and cross our fingers they don’t order the crab legs. Crab legs take a long time to eat. In the last 30 minutes, you just know you’re going to get two orders of crab legs. And I’m like, if you’re going to wait for one order of crab legs, might as well wait for two. – Vessells

What do you wish people knew about Broadway Oyster Bar?
We don’t take separate checks. Why? Imagine having a big party at your house, 200 people, and trying to keep track of what everybody ate and drank. It’s the same thing here. People get upset, but they don’t realize. This ain’t Tony’s, where people come and sit in their seat. That would be way easier. – Johnson