Long-time friends Jason Keith and Greig Perrin wanted to find their own little business niche in Payson.
So they decided to sell deep-fried alligator tails.
Very happily, that's not the only food item that's going to grace the menu of G & J's Kajun Kove Seafood the combination fast-seafood restaurant and fish market they hope to open on the south side of the Swiss Village shopping center within the first two weeks of December.
They will also offer fish, shrimp and oyster baskets with chips, or in "po' boy" sandwiches, catfish and crawfish dishes, along with various gumbos, jambalayas, ettouffees, and a host of other N'Awlins favorites obscure to many Arizona mountainfolk.
Neither Keith or Perrin are newcomers to the Rim country business scene.
Keith, a 27-year resident of Payson, is the manager of his parents' local landmark enterprise, Gollipops. And Perrin, who has lived here 12 years, is the current owner of the 260 Cafe.
"First, we looked at the local market and decided that what Payson really needs, and has needed for some time, is a seafood restaurant," Keith said. "We figured that out over two-and-a-half years ago. More recently, we decided on Cajun seafood because, based on our research and all of the restaurant magazines, it is really taking off nationally. There is nothing more popular right now."
Another reason they went Cajun, Perrin added, is that they love eating, cooking it, and feeding it to Cajun newbies.
"We've catered some parties, and when you start cooking up a big ol' tub of crawfish, a crowd automatically forms around you," he said. "Everybody wants to try it."
Although the finishing touches have yet to be put onto their menu, the prices will likely range from $4.98 for a basic basket to $15.00 for a seafood sampler featuring nearly everything in the store.
Meantime, fresh seafood will be on refrigerated display just as you'd find it in a fish market, available to those who "just want to take it home and cook it themselves," Perrin says.
The word "fresh" is key to both men as it should be to anyone purchasing seafood.
"We guarantee that our fish will be as fresh as it can possibly be," Keith promises. "Three or four days after they pull it into the boat in Louisiana, we'll be serving it in our restaurant."
For those unfamiliar with Cajun and Creole cooking, its pleasures were perhaps best described in 1884 by Mark Twain when he noted, "New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin."
To this day, there are many who claim Cajun is the best cuisine in the world but few who'd rank it in the realm of health food, considering that a popular phrase among Louisiana chefs is, "It ain't da seafood dat makes ya fat ... it's da batta (butter)!"
As testament to both qualities of Cajun food, Keith and Perrin acknowledge their own ample girth.
"We eat a lot of it ourselves," Keith admits with a laugh.
"Hard to stop," Perrin adds.