Seafood restaurant bringing its shrimp, fish and crab claws to Columbus

This was a recent Wednesday daily special of all-you-can-eat fried popcorn shrimp and sides at The Shrimp Basket. --
This was a recent Wednesday daily special of all-you-can-eat fried popcorn shrimp and sides at The Shrimp Basket. -- Image from The Shrimp Basket on Facebook

A seafood restaurant called The Shrimp Basket and based in Gulf Shores, Ala., is about four months from opening a “showpiece” location that is part of a new development coming out of the ground in north Columbus.

“Tentatively, we’re looking at around January,” Steven Evers, operations director for The Shrimp Basket, said Monday.

The restaurant is a piece of a project at 6059 Veterans Parkway — just south of Northside Hospital and Hughston Clinic — being developed by KW Commercial. The construction includes a new home for the Keller Williams Realty River Cities office, as well as a Dunkin’ Donuts outlet and additional space for lease. The Childcare Network, based in Columbus, already relocated its corporate headquarters earlier this year to a separate building on the site.

Founded in 1993, the growing Shrimp Basket chain has about two dozen eateries in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, with a major presence along the Gulf Coast and the Florida Panhandle. That includes locations in Panama City Beach, Destin and Fort Walton. The closest to Columbus is on South College Avenue in Auburn, Ala.

“It’s proximity to Auburn definitely is a natural stepping stone,” Evers said of The Shrimp Basket’s coming entrance into the Columbus market, which would be its first in Georgia. “Also, the market research we did on the population and traffic count and all of those kinds of things indicated that Columbus is a good market.”

Jack Hayes, a broker with KW Commercial, is working on the project. He said construction on the 5,500-square-foot Shrimp Basket building should begin within two to three weeks, with a goal of having the seafood restaurant open in early January, but no later than Feb. 1. The eatery will include 1,500 square feet of covered outdoor patio seating, with misting fans operating in the heat of the summer.

“It’s going to have a really cool look, sort of that seaside look to it, with the hardy plank, metal shiny roof, and Bahama shutters that kick out at a 45-degree angle,” said Hayes, explaining this will be the first Shrimp Basket location built from the ground up. It is being financed by Southern States Bank.

“They just brought on a new equity investor and they’re looking to take this to 70 restaurants in the next five years,” Hayes said of Shrimp Basket’s expansion plans. “Traditionally, they have only gone in what we call second-generation restaurant space, which is an Olive Garden that goes out of business or Johnny Carino’s that goes out of business, and then they’ll come in and re-purpose the restaurant. But this is their first purpose-built restaurant and they’ll kind of use this restaurant here in Columbus as their showcase piece for when they’re going into different markets.”

That means prospects will take a look at the Columbus location and its unique design to give them an idea of what the eatery will look like if they decide to invest in one in their communities.

As for The Shrimp Basket food itself, the company’s website touts its overall menu, including shrimp, fish, crab claws, crawfish and po-boys, as well as chicken and sandwiches for those not a seafood fan. The eatery also mentions a dish that features a signature Roasted Red Pepper Bama Sauce over fettuccine pasta.

Daily specials on the site include all-you-can-eat steamed shrimp with shrimp slaw, corn and new potatoes for $14.99 on Tuesday; all-you-can eat fried fish served with shrimp slaw, hushpuppies, fritter and choice of new potatoes, fries or potato salad for $10.99 (whitefish) or $11.99 (catfish) on Monday and Thursday; and all-you-can-eat fried popcorn shrimp with shrimp slaw, hushpuppies, fritter and choice of new potatoes, fries or potato salad for $11.99 on Sunday and Wednesday.

(Click here for The Shrimp Basket’s menu)

The Shrimp Basket’s motto is “We’re Grillin’, Steamin’ and Fryin.’”

For Dunkin’ Donuts, when it opens sometime in December, this will be the coffee and doughnut chain’s fifth location in the market. It already has three stores in Columbus on Manchester Expressway, Macon Road and Veterans Parkway near downtown. There also is one on Ingersoll Street on Fort Benning and another that just opened off U.S. Highway 280/431 (at the intersection of U.S. Highway 80) in a building that also has a Domino’s Pizza and a Title Pawn outlet.