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NWI Business Ins and Outs: Cajun Crab House opens at Southlake Mall, Veleros Restaurant brings menu from acclaimed chef to Valpo
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NWI Business Ins and Outs

NWI Business Ins and Outs: Cajun Crab House opens at Southlake Mall, Veleros Restaurant brings menu from acclaimed chef to Valpo

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

Cajun Crab House Boil and Bar has done a soft opening at Southlake Mall in Hobart, and plans to be fully up and running when it gets its liquor license to serve beer and spirits.

The New Orleans-style seafood restaurant took over the space across from Cooper's Hawk and the J.C. Penney department store entrance that was last occupied by the short-lived Porkchop BBQ.

The new restaurant specializes in seafood boils, a Louisiana favorite in which crab, lobster, crawfish and other seafood is steam-cooked in a plastic bag with corn on the cob, potatoes, Andouille sausage, and Cajun spices. Cajun Crab House Boil and Bar will serve boils with a half dozen types of crabs, including blue crab, Dungeness crab, king crab, stone crab and snow crab. 

The down-home southern seafood joint is not a white-tablecloth kind of place.

"The boils are messy," General Manager Sean Yudis said. "It's something you eat with your hands."

Other options for boils include lobster tails, mussels, shrimp and clams.

"All the boils are customizable," Yudis said. "You can add more spices, more Andouille, more potato instead of corn or the other way. The boil bags are always one pound of seafood. We don't do half pounds or anything like that." 

The menu also includes Cajun fettuccine alfredo pasta and fried alligator, both as an appetizer and an entree.

"We have couple of chefs who get together to come up with new dishes," he said. "We always try to evolve and see what sticks."

It's part of a suburban Chicagoland chain that also has locations in Joliet, Oak Park, Oakbrook Terrace and Orland Park. Yudis said it was looking at additional locations, including potentially in Valparaiso, Mishawaka, Downers Grove and Naperville.

As it scouts out potential locations, Cajun Crab House Boil and Bar is looking to take over defunct chain restaurants that had liquor licenses that can be transferred.

"It's an up-and-coming chain," he said. "This is the fifth location, but a few more are coming."

At the Southlake Mall in Hobart, Cajun Crab House Boil and Bar will have live music on weekends and aim for a fun, relaxed atmosphere.

"It's a place for family fun where you can drink alcohol, relax and have fun," he said. "We'll have live bands and DJs. It will be a party atmosphere but one where you'd want to bring your family to."

The restaurant currently employs about 40 to 45 workers and may hire more once the coronavirus pandemic is over and it can operate at full capacity in its dining room. It can seat up to 170 diners inside and another 100 in an outdoor patio that it hopes to heat and cover with a tent so people can dine there year-round.

"It's a monster patio," Yudis said. "It's beautiful. It's a fun place."

Once it has a liquor license, the restaurant will offer beer including several 3 Floyds brews on tap and specialty drinks like margaritas, hurricanes, jungle juice, and "Cajun-style" signature drinks.

"We won't have wine because we're right next to Cooper's Hawk, so we figured why bother," he said. "We will have a party or festive vibe that was missing where people can drink and listen to the music. People are stopping outside just to dance to our music."

Cajun Crab House Boil and Bar will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, and from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, call 219-525-5008. A web page and social media pages are currently under construction.

Open

A chef with a restaurant with a Michelin star crafted the menu for the new Veleros Restaurant in Valparaiso.

Acclaimed Chicago chef Saul “Diablo” Chavez, who is famous for his Taco de Langosta and whose La Josie restaurant in the West Loop earned a Michelin star, devised the menu for the new high-end Latin restaurant at 902 Calumet Avenue.

Veleros, which seats around 80 diners, opened about two weeks ago. The owners said they wanted to bring a different type of Latin food to the Region, more comparable to what's available in Chicago.

The family-owned restaurant offers high-end Latin fare and "new Mexican cuisine" with an emphasis on seafood. The menu includes lobster tacos, lobster tail, prawns, steak, grilled salmon with adobo sauce, barbacoa, enchiladas and coconut rice. The chapuzon entree for instance blends sauteed octopus, shrimp and tilapia in a spicy red sauce.

Taco options include shrimp, Mahi Mahi, al pastor and vegetarian with goat cheese, while appetizers include a seafood ceviche, calamari, queso fundido, and a shrimp and octopus cocktail. Guacamole comes in two varieties: traditional or seasonal.

The most popular menu item is the lobster taco, which is sauteed in garlic butter and topped with corn relish, a jalapeno medley and crispy onions.

A variety of Michelada beer cocktails also are available, including the Acapulco that mixes cerveza with fruit juice, lime and "a hint of jalapeno."

Veleros, which translates into sailboats in Spanish, is currently open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

For more information, visit velerosrestaurant.com or call (219) 615-3915.

If you would like your business to be included in a future column, email joseph.pete@nwi.com. 

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If you would like your business to be included in a future column, email joseph.pete@nwi.com.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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