MERRILLVILLE | Start with some southern fried chicken. Add a cup of candied yams and a dash of black eyed peas. Stir in Southern Fried Okra and top off with warm peach cobbler.
These are some dishes Seasons' Restaurant and Catering owner Carmen Gist hopes will prove a recipe for success for the recently opened business which specializes in authentic Cajun and Southern cuisine.
Jazz music in the background and framed photographs of New Orleans provide a sense of being on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. Warm fall colors reflect the establishment's name which Gist said was taken from her favorite bible passage, Ecclesiastes 3, 1-8, "To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose unto heaven." Framed leaf prints also adorn the walls. "The leaf represents the change of the color with the seasons," Gist said. "What Seasons means to me is things change because I came from a background in corporate America for a long time and I know that God sent me here to learn." When Gist's employer of 13 years downsized, she decided to take a leap of faith and go into business for herself. Gist noticed a lack of local Southern and Cajun restaurants. "There was nothing with a jazz flair," Gist said. "We found a niche and we stuck to it."
Seasons features live jazz on Friday nights from 6 p.m. to close. They sell beer, wine and Sangria. Signs on the wall include sayings: "Good wine, good friends, good times" and "The fondest memories are made when you gather around the table." Gist said she has operated Seasons Catering for more than a year while planning for and preparing the restaurant. Gist said she grew up in Pittsburgh where her father had the city's number one catering business. "The only thing I knew after school was over was we catered," Gist said.
Gist studied fashion merchandising in college which encouraged her flair for design, a skill useful when decorating Seasons. The freshly cooked from scratch home-style cuisine includes four types of Po'Boys, shrimp, steak, catfish and the chicken. Other dishes are jambalaya, fried chicken and waffles, gumbo, fried green tomatoes, grits, cornbread, crab cakes and ribs. Gist said the fried chicken has special seasonings which set it apart. Homemade core desserts are sweet potato pie, peach cobbler, and banana pudding with daily specials such as bread pudding or cake.
Seasons provide offsite catering or meals in the restaurant for all occasions. Gist said the business was started with a combination of savings and a loan.
Executive Chef Alton Omonte, who trained at Le Cordon Blue College of Culinary Arts, worked at Georgia Tech Restaurant in Atlanta for eleven years. There, Omonte said, he cooked for many famous customers including rap group Goodie Mob, Ramon Session, of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Mayors Andrew Young and Maynard Jackson and Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. Omonte said American and Southern cuisine are his specialties. His goal is for Seasons to become a franchise.
7219 Taft Street ( Strack & Van Til Shopping center)
Merrillville, IN 46410
Come, sit back and relax and enjoy a taste of the south! Specializing in Cajun and Southern Cuisine.
Hours: Monday & Tuesday Open For Private Events
Wednesday & Thursday 12pm - 9pm