This month, The Depot will celebrate its five-year anniversary since the restaurant opened in 2015.
Since its initial opening, The Depot has become an Auburn staple for those looking for quality seafood with an international flair.
Scott Simpson, executive chef and co-owner of The Depot, said The Depot originally started as an idea from the owners of The Hound, another local Auburn eatery, who wanted to expand with a new restaurant.
However, after speaking with Simpson and bringing him in as the executive chef, they evolved their idea into a seafood restaurant that would bring locally sourced seafood into the Auburn community.
Simpson said the anniversary of The Depot has been an opportunity to look back and be grateful.
“To me personally, opening my own restaurant was always somewhere deep down inside of me,” he said. “Most chefs have a lifelong dream to open their own place ... To look back and see this accomplishment has been realizing a lifelong dream of mine.”
Simpson said this has also been a time to reevaluate the restaurant’s vision and see how The Depot will move forward in the next five years.
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Before COVID-19, the menu featured daily fresh catches, six fresh oysters and another page of fixed seasonal items.
Simpson said with the decreased volume of people dining out at restaurants due to COVID, he took the opportunity to change the menu into a daily one.
The daily menu features special dishes and changes every night according to what sustainable and environmentally friendly products are available, he said.
With The Depot being the first restaurant in Alabama to receive the James Beard Smart Catch Leader Award, Simpsons said they carry a commitment to serve sustainable, ethically sourced products and specifically sustainable seafood.
“Nowadays there is more accountability in the source, and people are valuing catching things that are not endangered and are traceable to where and how they were caught,” he said.
Simpson noted that there is much more information available about sustainability, and consumers are more aware of how their eating habits impact the environment.
In celebration of their anniversary, The Depot has added several special items to the menu inspired by dishes that were originally served when they first opened.
Among these dishes is their grass-fed lamb served with sea salt beets baked with feta; a brick-cooked chicken served with a citrus Portuguese chili rub and rosemary onion braised collard greens; a blackened Maryland-style crab cake served with Cajun andouille red rice and a citrus pepper remoulade.
Simpson said everything is made in-house, so they are easily able to accommodate special requests for guests who may have an allergy or a certain preference for their meal.
In addition to these special items, they are also having $5 Wednesday Nights where they will offer special “blast from the past” menu items for a reduced price.
What truly makes The Depot special, Simpson said, is its connection and relationships with the guests who dine in the restaurant.
He said he has learned from the guests and from their feedback on how to improve The Depot and has sent recipes to guests so that they are able to create a similar experience at home.
“We owe our guests all of our success, and this is a great opportunity for us to speak directly to them and say thank you for keeping us in business since 2015,” Simpson said. “We could not have gotten this far without them.”
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