Mud Bugs Cajun Kitchen
A New Orleans-style Revival
One of Benchmark’s more dramatic, commercial renovations can be seen at Mud Bugs Cajun Kitchen on Sanibel. The building was originally constructed in the mid-20th century as Café Orleans—a quaint, two-story restaurant with French-style architecture that complemented its Provencal cuisine. The restaurant changed hands over the years, eventually falling into disrepair until most recently purchased by a local restaurateur with an ambitious vision for renovating and reviving the once-neglected structure. Thus, the concept for Mud Bugs Cajun Kitchen was born--a destination restaurant offering diners a colorful, contemporary New Orleans-style ambience with authentic Cajun cuisine unlike any that Sanibel had seen before.
One of the immediately striking features of Mud Bugs Cajun Kitchen is its dramatic doorway. The project’s lead architect, Raymond Fenton, envisioned an elaborate entrance that would be both iconic and “descriptive” of the experience that patrons could expect inside. Staying true to the vision of referencing various cultures and periods, the design team looked to well-known European entryways for inspiration. Fenton and the team eventually decided on a modern reinterpretation of the world-famous Zuccari Palace (also known as the Monster Palace) from Rome, Italy. Fenton simplified the original, hand-carved Baroque design into a digital format that could be recreated by a local concrete artist. The results are truly stunning and the perfect visual preview for the fiery Cajun cuisine that patrons will enjoy within.
A Chihuly-style chandelier is MudBugs’ crowning embellishment, illuminating a pulpit-style bandstand balcony where live music is played on the regular. Visitors will also enjoy other custom, decorative details in the restaurant’s unique Cajun-island style, including oyster shell chandeliers over the raw bar sinks and seashell and sea glass-embedded concrete countertops.