Iconic Restaurant in Gautier Changes Ownership
13 - 06
GAUTIER–Changes are coming to the iconic Tiki Restaurant in Gautier, but locals have nothing to be worried about. The seafood menu that made the restaurant on the Mary Walker Bayou a staple for decades isn’t going anywhere. It’s just that now barbeque is joining the crab legs and shrimp on the menu. “If there’s any change at all, what we want people to understand is that Tiki’s will always be a seafood restaurant,” said Darryl Jackson, a consultant for the Tiki’s new owners. Those new owners, David and Deborah Lindsey, are just adding barbeque recipes they have perfected from working at their son’s restaurant, Hog Heaven BBQ in Laurel, Jackson said. The Lindseys bought the restaurant after years of living near the restaurant and being customers, Jackson said, and they are working to improve the quality of the seafood fare that locals have come to expect from the Tiki. Regulars will notice a few other changes designed to bring in more customers. The restaurant will expand its hours to be open all day on Sundays and Mondays, and the owners are trying to book new musicians and plan more weekend events, particularly ones that take advantage of the outdoor patio and deck. The Tiki has already started a weekly Thursday night karaoke contest. The year’s weekly winners will compete against each other in December for a chance to win $2,500. “We’re just trying to get the crowd back over here like the old days,” Jackson said. Edward Thornton’s family bought the Tiki in May of 1969, and ownership eventually passed to Thornton. Selling the family’s iconic restaurant has been emotional at times, Thornton said, but he has no regrets about handing it over to the Lindseys. “They’re wanting to keep things as they are,” Thornton said. “They realize that a place like this that has been around as long as it has, it’s created some deep roots.” Not only that, but Thornton also gives his stamp of approval on the barbeque. “I’ve eaten everything they got, and it’s well worth it,” Thornton said.