Let the good times roll at new Cajun restaurant

By Nick Blank Staff Writer
Posted 3/20/19

ORANGE PARK – Brandye Mackey waited for 11 long months. With true Cajun food being so hard to come by in Clay County, her wait is finally ended on March 5.

After operating Mackey’s …

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Let the good times roll at new Cajun restaurant

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Brandye Mackey waited for 11 long months. With true Cajun food being so hard to come by in Clay County, her wait is finally ended on March 5.

After operating Mackey’s Munchies, in the Fleming Island Village Square Plaza from 2015 to last April, Mackey finally is ready to open a 3,000-square-foot property at 868 Blanding Blvd. The new location is three times as large as the old location, with tables, chairs, booths and a large patio.

“It’s just a testimony of faith, that 11 months ago, I said I wanted this building and we’re here now,” she said. “If you put your faith to something and you want it, you just don’t let it go. That’s pretty much the story.”

Brandye Mackey said the major challenge is hiring staff to accommodate a greater number of people in a bigger space. She said the new location would deal with more demand.

“It’s triple the space, so we need double the people,” Mackey said.

Her husband Brian Mackey is a Plaquemines Parish, La., native, which is about 40 minutes south of New Orleans. He calls it, “The Big Toe of the Boot,” and reminisces about the tastes and traditions he had growing up. In the bayou’s tight-knit fishing community, you live off the land.

“We grow a lot of things down home and we fish a lot. Then we put it together and make people sing,” Brian said. “[With Mackey’s Munchies] We just went back to our roots. I want you to understand how it was when I grew up. These are the kinds of things I ate. I want to bring that to light.”

When the couple discuss their favorite Cajun fare, Brandye Mackey recommends jambalaya and gumbo. They both praised beignets, a deep-fried sugared pastry. Brian said he couldn’t get past the Po’ boy, a traditional Louisiana shrimp sandwich. A Po’ boy isn’t served on just any kind of bread, he pointed out.

“Po’ boys are a big staple of who we are in Louisiana, it’s not to be confused with a sub. You cannot just get any bread,” he said. “It has to be Louisiana French bread. Even in ‘La France,’ their bread is not the same as Louisiana bread. It’s in the water, the water makes the difference.”

Brian said Louisiana’s food was essential to family gatherings and camaraderie. He said red beans and rice was always served on Mondays.

“It’s always a big party. There’s going to a lot of food, there’s going to be a lot of jambalaya, a lot of gumbo, baked spaghetti, which is actually macaroni and cheese baked with spaghetti noodles,” he said. “Growing up in Louisiana, if you come home for dinner, don’t even ask what’s for dinner. It’s always red beans and rice. That’s just a traditional thing.”

While Cajun food is their call card, Mackey’s Munchies has Soul food on Wednesdays and twists on dishes such as Jambalaya burritos.

Brandye said the new location enabled them to expand to different dishes. Hours are currently at 11 a.m.-4 p.m., but the Mackeys are hoping to restore regular hours in the next couple of weeks. Doors opened on the new space in time for Mardi Gras.

“We’re excited and glad to still be in Clay County,” Brandye said. “We hope our Fleming Island will still come and see us here. We’re excited to meet everybody else and be in Orange Park.”

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