Seafood is in my blood, said Clint Rogers, owner of Big Blue Crawfish. Growing up on the coast of Mississippi, Rogers was accustomed to large seafood boils, fishing and shrimping as a kid.
Despite his constant interaction with crawfish, Rogers still finds enjoyment from cracking shells and chowing down. So much enjoyment that he found himself sampling other crawfish while visiting New Orleans on Spring Break this year.
His knowledge of seafood paired well with his degree in hotel and restaurant management from Auburn in 2000. Graduation sealed the deal and he was off to New Orleans.
"I fell in love with the culture and food — everything that New Orleans and Louisiana had to offer," Rogers said.
Along with loving Louisiana, Rogers found his wife, who was studying at Louisiana State University at the time. The two were frequent crawfish and shrimp boil-goers. Rogers was determined to learn the crawfish boil way before departing from Louisiana.
After learning the traditional methods, he found himself back in Alabama running his own business, one of which has been open for a year and a half now.
But before the family could make it back to the South, they took a short detour to life in Saint Louis, Missouri.
"We survived one winter there and after realizing we were from the South for a reason, we struck up a deal to look for jobs in the South," Rogers said.
He was still in contact with his college advisor, the contact that eventually helped get him back to Auburn.
"You hear of people in Auburn never leaving or coming back, it just draws you back," Rogers said.
His first job in Auburn was working in food distribution, which lasted 10 years. This position introduced him to restaurant owners and showed him the ins-and-outs of the business.
He eventually took the leap.
In the beginning, he wasn't sure customers would want to eat crawfish year-round, as most people know associate large seafood boils as a special occasion or an event for twice a year.
So far, there has been no evidence as such.
When deciding how to run the business, food trucks were beginning to pop up everywhere. This mobile platform aligned with Rogers' demographic perfectly, as he wanted a business that was mobile and flexible for private parties and outdoor gatherings.
Rogers wanted a local business, which is clear from the food truck's orange and blue exterior. He wanted to appeal to small events, like fraternity and sorority events, private business parties and small town weekly setups.
On Mondays and Tuesdays, Rogers runs all over town collecting a week's worth of supplies as he prepares for the week ahead. Starting a 9 a.m., Rogers can be found preparing to serve by 11 a.m..
Rogers can be found weekly Wednesday through Sunday dishing out crawfish at the corner market of Gay and Samford. This small, local setup is exactly what Rogers wanted from the beginning.
A year and a half in, the business has exceeded Rogers initial expectations.
Rogers continues to work towards consistent quality and a product that can be enjoyed by all customers. The seasoning has to be right, Rogers said.
"You want to have a product that is going to be very good, but not only good one time but all the time," Roger said.
Skeptical Mobile and Louisiana natives are always curious when trying Big Blue Crawfish, but Rogers said he has received positive reviews on his technique, a test not many can pass.
With very little advertising, Rogers said the business has gained somewhat of a following and crowd of regulars.
When setting up for these regulars, Rogers said it is practically a one-man show. On occasion, he is graciously assisted by his 6-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter when he can lure them away from their iPads. The two love to help out their father washing the large pots and helping clean up after a business day.
Rogers' wife works for the University but is recruited for large events and keeping the books.
The events themselves are a pleasure, Rogers said. Early on he found a love for human engagement and serving others.
"Communicating with others, being able to adapt and build relationships is so key in whatever you do, but especially in a small business," Rogers said.
Going the extra mile to please customers is the goal, Rogers said.