From Big Red Truck to Big Red Café: The Jones are back in Destin and "feeding family"
It’s been almost a decade since Casey Jones started serving fish tacos out the window of the Big Red Truck.
Now, in just a matter of weeks, Casey and his wife Jami will serve up those signature fish tacos along with their grilled lettuce wedges and more at the Big Red Café at the corner of U.S. Highway 98 and Airport Road.
The Big Red Café will be in the old silver Destin Diner that opened in 1992. The last resident of the building was Mary’s Kitchen, which closed in the past couple of months.
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“We have been looking for a breakfast and lunch spot for a while,” Casey said while taking a break from some of the construction going on in the building last week.
“The opportunity arose … and it was pretty much a done deal as soon as I told my wife. She went to sleep that night and already had a menu ready the next morning,” he said.
Casey and Jami started the Big Red Truck in 2014 and set up at various places around town serving up fish, shrimp and chicken tacos as well as grilled lettuce wedges, burgers and much more.
In 2019 the couple opened The Wharf 850 in Niceville and will continue to run that restaurant. But in the meantime, they are looking forward to opening a café at home in Destin.
“The biggest motivation for us was, we had an opportunity to,” said Casey, who noted that he grew up in Destin and the couple still live here.
“We have an opportunity to feed our family,” Casey said.
After Callahan’s Restaurant and Deli, a locally-owned restaurant that served Destin for more than three decades, closed and then Mary’s Kitchen closed, Casey said, “it left a hole for a local eatery … a local fresh place to eat.”
The couple closed the deal on the facility May 1 and have been hard at work ever since.
“It’s all coming together. … It’s a God thing. And it’s a great opportunity to be back in town,” Jami said.
They will serve a lot of items that are on the Big Red Truck menu, she said.
“We’re going to do what people know,” Jami added.
They will be serving up fish and shrimp tacos, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and grilled lettuce wedges, plus their Big Red sauce.
“And we are going to bring milkshakes back” to give it that diner feel, she said.
And instead of a blue plate special, they hope to offer some red-plate specials.
The red-plate special will be a daily lunch special, plus a daily to-go dinner special.
“A lot of people work and don’t have time, so we will have an opportunity for them to pick up something on the way home,” Casey said.
In the meantime, construction on the inside of the old diner is underway.
“We’re doing some minor work in here to get open and then this fall we’re going to do our big work on it … redo all the floors and bathrooms,” Casey said.
“Right now, we’re doing a little cosmetic work and redoing the whole kitchen,” said Casey, who noted that it will be outfitted with new equipment.
“We’re moving and shaking,” he said.
The Joneses are shooting to open the first week of June.
“We’ll be open 8 to 8, so don’t be late,” serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday, Casey said.
He and Jami will split their time between the Wharf 850 and the café.
“We’re just looking forward to feeding family,” Casey said.
In the past few years, they have seen some of the Destin crowd at the Wharf, but they complain it’s too far to drive, Casey said.
“They won't have far to drive now, they won't even have to get on U.S. 98,” he said noting they can come in from Airport Road.
“And there is plenty of parking,” he added.
As for the namesake of the café, the Big Red Truck, it will be out of commission for a while.
“We’re putting a fresh new face on it as well,” Casey said.
And in keeping with Big Red Truck theme, Jami said they plan to put red neon lights around the outside of the diner.
Just in case you didn’t know
The Joneses named the Big Red Truck after Casey’s grandfather’s trucking company, The Red Star Express. His grandfather was John Bisgrove.
“He is the only namesake … so we named our company Red Star Legacy. So, all things are red,” Jami said.