Blackened catfish, crawfish, Po-boy sandwiches, frog legs and alligator aren't standard fare for Utah County meals - not yet anyway.
Though such delicacies are more traditionally associated with Cajun-cooked meals, one local businessman is trying to spread the word about those and other edibles and trying to prosper as well.David Fernandez, owner-operator of The Cajun, 46 W. 1230 North, brought his prosperous Cajun restaurant business from Grantsville to a location in Provo's Royal Inn Hotel and later, to its current location, in the hopes of bringing the Bayou to the Beehive State.
Fernandez is a registered X-ray and ultrasound technician and worked in his native Louisiana for 17 years in that capacity before making his move into the restaurant business.
"I was heading out into the Northwest and stopped by to visit a doctor friend in Utah, and just kind of stayed here."
He said the doctor employed him as a technician in Tooele, and a mutual friend got him involved in the food business.
"I've always enjoyed cooking and have done it since I was young. It's just something I get satisfaction from."
And evidently Fernandez must be satisfied, since he opens the restaurant each Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m. and stays until well after it closes at 10 p.m., cooking and cleaning and playing the jovial host.
Joined by his "right-hand man," Phil Cadoux - who comes to Utah by way of France - Fernandez and the rest of his help say they're having a hard time keeping up with lunchtime and dinnertime rushes, especially with the local universities starting their fall sessions.
"I'd always heard that Utah County was tough on restaurant businesses, but we've been pretty fortunate so far," Fernandez said. "While we were in the hotel (he and his workers have been in the current location since late March), things weren't really that good.
"However, since we've been here (in a former Taco Time site), our walk-by business has picked up, and we seemed to do well during the summer. Business has picked up in the fall, though, especially."
And why? Perhaps because of Fernandez's authentic recipes (culled from his own cooking experiences - including some family recipes) for such Cajun delights as Jambalaya, Chicken Diane, Hush Puppies and Gumbo Creole - or perhaps what he calls "the best Buffalo Wings in the state, maybe the world."