Bayou Cafe’s 30 year run on River Street coming to an end

ByMariah Congedo|January 18, 2021 at 2:49 PM EST - Updated January 18 at 4:46 PM

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The open sign is getting ready to be taken down at the Bayou Cafe on River Street. For 30 years, it’s been a place many went to enjoy food, friends, and live music.

Since 1991, customers and musicians have walked in and out of this door. It’s a place, the owner says, that has left its mark on Savannah in more ways than one.

“The place is definitely going to be missed. We had a lot of fun here,” Bayou Café owner Vincent Zambito said.

Thirty years ago, the Bayou Cafe was opened by Zambito’s father.

“I was here all during that time, in and out, odds and ends, picking up shifts if I had to,” Zambito said.

Zambito says taking the business over one day was always in the back of his mind.

“He was ready to let somebody else take over the operation, so he could kind of sit back and play music,” Zambito said.

Music quickly became what the joint was known for. Zambito says they have live music seven days a week. From local artists, to bands, to celebrities and even his father has all played here.

“Thomas Claxton, a staple here,” Zambito said.

Claxton played his first gig in the Bayou Cafe when he was 17 years old.

“I remember when I first walked in the door, I was kind of intimidated,” Claxton said.

But over the years and no matter the huge venue he got to play in, the Bayou was always his “safe space.”

“This place actually really taught me how to work crowds, how to be put on that spot,” Claxton said.

“A lot of great people, a lot of great musicians, great staff,” Zambito said.

For Zambito and Claxton, there’s no doubt it was their second home.

“I’m very thankful and happy for the experiences that I’ve had here, but it’ still very sad and disheartening to see it go. I really don’t think Savannah understands what it’s missing,” Claxton said.

It’s not quite the end just yet, though. Starting next Thursday, they’re hosting a celebration with, of course, live music. This will last until Sunday when they officially close their doors.

“One door closes, another door closes. You know, just look to the future and see what else we can do and bring to Savannah,” Zambito said.

Zambito says even though the Bayou Cafe won’t be here anymore, it’ll be on wheels because their food truck will still be in operation.

The owner says they had to make the decision to close because their rent went up and it was too much to handle especially during these times.

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Photo: WTOC

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