Blow flies are back at the Blow Fly

A namesake plastic fly sits on a po-boy at the Blow Fly Inn in Gulfport. The iconic restaurant’s ‘re-grand opening’ was held Friday.
A namesake plastic fly sits on a po-boy at the Blow Fly Inn in Gulfport. The iconic restaurant’s ‘re-grand opening’ was held Friday. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

The blow flies are back. And that’s a good thing.

As any longtime fan of the Blow Fly Inn in Gulfport will tell you, the restaurant’s sign is partially right. In addition to “the food ... the view,” the third attraction is the promise of a little plastic blow fly gracing each plate coming out of the kitchen.

The blow flies were formally reintroduced Friday during “re-grand opening” ceremonies at the restaurant which sits on Bayou Bernard, the bucolic setting where Al and Bert Malone opened the original Blow Fly in 1955. Brothers John and Victor Bazzone have owned the Blow Fly since 1995 but this summer, they took over management of it, too. In fact, John Bazzone has taken a leave of absence from his medical practice to concentrate on the restaurant, he said, “until we get things done the way we want to.”

He was greeting customers Friday as they continued to arrive long after the peak lunch hour. The Blow Fly is back to an abbreviated version of its original menu, which will feature another familiar image.

“We’re going to publish a history of the Blow Fly on our upcoming menus,” Bazzone said. “Joan and Bennie Ferrera were the managers for years, and Joan had drawn a blow fly sitting in a chair with a fork and a knife in its hand; it was on the menu for years. We’re bringing that blow fly back on the next menu.

“We’re back to the old menu,” he said. “There are things people have missed, like the hamburger steak. I was sitting down with a nephew of the founders, and he said, ‘John, you have to have the hamburger steak on the menu. You don’t know the significance of that.’ It’s our No. 2 best seller. No. 1 is the flounder.”

The restaurant temporarily closed in late May for kitchen renovations, then reopened July 2.

“The lunches are really popular,” Bazzone said. “We had an incredible crowd today. People who know it comes with lunch come for the banana pudding. We have people who say, ‘Bring my banana pudding first, and then my lunch.’”

There are some new touches, such as black fabric tablecloths on the deck tables and candle holders, but much of the dining area remains the same.

The Bazzones plan to open the ground-floor patio as dining space with picnic tables for groups such as soccer teams and clubs. The tables are another nod to the Malones, who originally had picnic tables in their restaurant.

“But right now it’s the state,” Bazzone said. “We have to amend our liquor license.” The ground floor will be strictly dining space, with all food and beverages coming from the upstairs portion of the restaurant. John Bazzone estimates the space will be open by late November.

He said the focus now is on fine-tuning the food.

“If we get the food right and get it really good, the people will be back,” he said.

Hours for the restaurant, at 1201 Washington Ave., Gulfport, are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Tammy Smith: 228-896-2130, @Simmiefran1