Goodbye to Covid, Hello to Fat’s Oyster House
It’s been a rough 2020 for Chase Boytim, owner of Fatty Arbuckle’s Pub in the Red River District. He, like other bar owners in Louisiana, have had a grim time in this year of Covid. Some have hunkered down, some have decided to close up shop completely, but Boytim has done neither. In fact, he decided to expand. Crazy, eh?
For the past couple of months, in addition to his two other jobs, he has been rehabbing, repairing and deep cleaning the space that used to be the Fully Stacked hamburger restaurant in the Red River District downtown. Everything, he said, was broken, dirty or held together with duct tape. “It was a wreck,’ he said. “Our initial plan was to do a little at a time, but once we got in, we decided to make it the way when wanted it. It’s going to be warm and welcoming, extra clean and super nice.”
Boytim has been a part of a little bar in the Red River District on the Shreveport riverfront for 17 years. He first started working at Fatty Arbuckle’s Pub, the sole remaining original Red River District business, in 2003. He took on an ownership stake in 2005 and never looked back. What he HAS been looking to do the last decade or so is expand, a plan that he said, “just never worked out.” If you’ve not been to Fatty Arbuckles’, it’s a tiny space, maybe 900 square feet, and it feels a lot like the bar in ‘Cheers.’ It’s so small it’s impossible to come or go unnoticed and the waitstaff tends to remember names and favorite drinks. Fatty’s has gotten a reputation as a purveyor of pretty fine whiskies and is known for its high quality bourbon drinks… but one can only do so much with 900 square feet and a kitchen the size of a postage stamp and Boytim wanted more.
When the former Fully Stacked adjacent to Fatty’s became available, Boytim jumped, and Fat’s Oyster House was born. He has had ideas for other restaurants in the Red River District, but the guiding motivation for this one, he said, was simple. “We get a lot of folks in the bar who are visiting Shreveport and want Louisiana-style food. We really don’t have any place that offers oysters, and we wanted to be that place.” Boytim says Fat’s Oyster House will offer a half dozen different styles of oysters, from raw to charbroiled to an Arnaud’s restaurant specialty called Oysters En Brochette, where the oysters are fried with bacon. Oysters will be a highlight, but not the only menu items. It will be rounded out with po’boys, crawfish in season, and an emphasis on locally sourced goods. “My greens will come from Cotton St. Farms downtown, my bread from Lowder’s Bakery, my pork from Mahaffey Farms and my beef from Smith Family Farms,” says Boytim. Speaking of his beef, he says he has been holding sampling sessions for his new menu items and his hamburgers are getting over the top reviews. In addition to food will be drink, and lots of it. The Oyster House will have 17 or 18 taps for craft beers, many from Great Raft brewery, rounded out by what Boytim calls ‘fun’ rum cocktails and daquiris. By offering these fruitier drinks at Fat’s, he can keep Fatty Arbuckles’ Pub more serious in its drink offerings.
Boytim doesn’t believe a good time is created by food and drink alone. He has long been a curator of live music and other events in the Red River District and will continue that at the patio at Fat’s. “I plan to host some acoustic music nights initially” he says, but that will change and expand as Covid loosens up. The pandemic and restrictions have slowed the opening, which is now scheduled for the first of 2021, and Boytim is both excited and optimistic. He has close friends who are working at a local hospital on the clinical studies of one of the Covid vaccines and has been keeping close tabs on its effectiveness. “I’m super excited, things are looking good. Now we just have to get it (the vaccine) out to people.” A new vaccine, a new spot to hang out and enjoy, a new year. Boytim- and the rest of us- are looking forward to it all.