A popular Sanibel restaurant is back open three months after Hurricane Ian hit. Mud Bugs Cajun Kitchen is a staple on Sanibel, and they are excited to be back up and running.
The restaurant is opening its doors just in time for the island to reopen to the public next week.
WINK News visited Mud Bugs Cajun Kitchen after the storm, and it looked a lot different than it does now. Despite the damage, the restaurant has preserved and worked its way back to be able to reopen.
“Claire and I are gonna go put the board out there, and she just helped us write open. This is her second time here. She interviewed when we were first here cleaning up, and now she’s back to give me a hard time,” said Ronald Rich, manager at Mud Bugs Cajun Kitchen.
Rich gave WINK News a tour of the inside of the restored restaurant. Only two months ago, the building was filled with mud and damage from the hurricane.
“As you noticed when you came before, the water was up to the wall of the frog,” said Rich. “We had to put new Christmas lights up. We had to clean everything.”
Mud Bugs even had to toss out all their kitchen appliances and replace them with new ones.
Thankfully, Rich had the help of his crew. Everyone on the payroll before Ian came back to help with clean up and reopening. Now, Mud Bugs is serving up Cajun goodness like nothing ever happened.
“Oh, it’s the best. Best oysters on the island,” said Bryan, who was happy Mud Bugs was reopening.
Rish said he hopes Sanibel reopening to the public will bring many more Cajun food fans to Mud Bugs.
If you’ve been to Sanibel in the last three months, you’ve probably noticed the officers waiting for you and remember showing them a reentry pass, but come next Tuesday, those officers will only be on duty overnights.
“On January 2nd, the island is gonna open back up to the public,” said Rich.
Sanibel city leaders would prefer that anyone who does not live on the island stay away for a while because there’s still so much work to be done.
Don’t tell that to rich, though, his work is done. He’s ready for customers to come to his restaurant.
“Definitely happy. Oh yeah. I like talking to the people here. Joking around with them. I’ve been missing all that. I like to do it, and I’m glad we can do it again,” said Rich. “It feels good because my body got beat up doing things it didn’t wanna do.”
That’s what a lot of stress and hard work can do to a body, but the people who love the Mardi Gras-themed Cajun restaurant couldn’t be more thankful.