Signature jumbo lump blue crab cakes with corn maque choux, classic shrimp and grits with a Latin twist, a braised carnitas tamale stack with Santos rocoto sauce and cotija and shrimp remoulade stuffed arepas – new flavors are coming to St. Charles Parish at Santos restaurant.
“It’s Louisiana roots with Latin attitude,” Executive Chef Natasha Clement, a former contestant on MasterChef Season 6 and a contestant and winner of Food Network’s All Star Academy Season 2, said of the restaurant she and Buddy Boe are set to open the first week of August.
The restaurant partnership came after years of friendship.
“It was very early on after I won the Food Network show that there was an interview I did and they asked me if I’d like to have a restaurant and I said, ‘Yeah, a brick and mortar would be fantastic,’” Clement recalls.
Boe read the article, and his wheels started spinning.
“I messaged her on Facebook and said, ‘You want two restaurants?’” he said laughing.
Boe had a plan. He knew he would be taking over Buddy B’s Restaurant in Garyville from his parents, and he wanted to create an umbrella of food services. Boe and Clement formed Sophisticated Hospitality Group, which will feature Clement’s already established catering and private chef business Sophisticated Southern Plates, Buddy B’s and Santos – their St. Charles Parish restaurant that will be housed at 12713 Hwy 90 in Luling, which was formerly Catahoulas.
“A single stand-alone restaurant is tough to turn good margins, but if you can spread some overhead costs out you can make decent profits,” Boe said. “We started that dance in 2020 and started Sophisticated Hospitality group and then Covid hit. Covid was just about survival last year – for her with her catering and me with Buddy B’s.”
Boe said he and Clement are excited to offer something new to the River Region.
“Santos is going to be sophisticated casual,” he said. “It’s a place where you feel comfortable but you know the food is elevated. It’s Southern with that Latin attitude and flair. We’re going to do shrimp and grits but with Latin spices and a Latin pastalaya … elevated comfort food.”
Boe said he has no doubt people will fall in love with Clement and her food.
“Her food is so beautiful and her personality is so big that I think people of the River Parishes are going to experience a comfortable setting but feel like they’re in the French Quarter,” he said. “I know Natasha has put her heart and soul into this menu. We want to add to the local food palate with something a little different. People are going to taste new flavors but in a way that’s comfortable.”
Clement said the idea behind Santos is to bring a twist to the Southern comfort food of the River Parishes.
“It’s those familiar, historic dishes with a Latin attitude,” she said. “I’m super excited for people to try new things. We’re stepping outside the box a little bit. People around here know how to cook, so you have to make it different and exciting and bring something new.”
Boe said the restaurant – which will feature a full bar that includes craft cocktail offerings – will open with lunch and dinner offerings and will expand to brunch options in the fall. An outdoor dining and outdoor bar setup will also be phased in as it gets cooler.
“We’re in the process of hiring right now and finishing touches are being done on the physical space,” he said, adding the restaurant will employ upwards of 20 people. “The space has been totally renovated from top to bottom … everything from paint and construction to fixtures.”
Boe said the restaurant will work to partner with local industry for deliveries, and that the hospitality group will offer its employees maximum growth opportunities and flexibility.
“That’s rare in the food and beverage industry,” he said. “We’re hoping that having the multiple places allows our people to stay longer and grow more.”