Okra's Bistro Cajun Creole Restaurant Opens at Virginia Oaks


Okra's Bistro from 9th green (Courtesy of Okra's.)

Many people know Okra’s the Creole and Cajun restaurant in Old Town Manassas; last month Okra’s owner/operator Charles Gilliam opened a second location in Gainesville called Okra’s Bistro.

Okra’s Bistro, which offers the same authentic creole/cajun menu as Okra’s in the City of Manassas, makes use of a fairly unique location, the Virginia Oak Clubhouse.

Although, the restaurant is off the beaten path, Gilliam believes the setting could become the restaurants greatest asset. Gilliam hopes people will come out to enjoy a relaxing atmosphere that includes a spacious dining room with a tremendous view and large wrap-around patio.

“The real difference is you’re not sitting on the patio breathing someone’s exhaust fumes,” Gilliam said. Instead diners can enjoy a more natural setting, “looking at trees, and a pond and a giant bird on the bond. One of the best things we've got going for us is we're surrounded by 2,000 acres."

While on the surface, Okra's is all about good food, for Gilliam, he said it's also about creating a memorable experience.

"We're in the business of making people happy. Not just to sell food and drinks. People come her to buy an experience. Food and drinks are just part of the experience," he said.

Okra's is an independent, a family owned business Gilliam established 18 years ago in Manassas. It is still thriving today as a integral part of the community and old town restaurant scene.

Gilliam is excited that the new venue allows Okra's to branch out. Earlier this month, the Haymarket Gainesville Business Association (HGBA) held a meeting there, and Gilliam shared with local business people how Okra's Bistro is equipped with state of the art technology, ideal for business meetings, seminars and presentation.

Okra's dining room. (Courtesy of Okra's Bistro.)

Last Thursday, Gilliam shared with Bristow Beat how Okra's and Okra's Bistro was built upon a dedication to bringing Louisiana traditions to the table. Gilliam, who is fascinated by the history of Cajun and Creole cuisine, takes pride in being the premiere Creole-style restaurant in the Prince William and Manassas area.

He explained that the melting pot that was Louisiana blended the down-home on the bayou cooking of Arcadian or "Cajun" fishermen from Nova Scotia with the finer tastes of French and Spanish aristocrats. Added to that mix were influences from West Africa and Caribbean spices from places like Trinidad and Tobago. The combination of various cultures is what Gilliam believes makes the cuisine so uniquely American.

"Cajun food is one of the only truly American foods. It's a mix of many different cultures. It doesn't abide by any of the rules of any culture," he said.

Gilliam feels proud to carry on that tradition that includes a rich history of various peoples and even swash-buckling pirates. He assures diners that his restaurants serve authentic creole dishes found in New Orleans and also Creole and Cajun inspired dishes of their own creation.

The Okra's Bistro family is excited to serve the greater Gainesville community.

"We all have good hearts and we love you even though we don't know you," Gilliam said.

He hopes to especially connect with the Virginia Oaks community as a good neighbor and also reach out to fill community need. Gilliam said Okra's have always given back to the community and they like to do so "joyfully," with donations to local nonprofits such as CASA.

Okra's Bistro is located at 7950 Virginia Oaks Drive, Gainesville, Virginia 20155. For more information visit the Okra's website and Okra's Bistro Facebook page.

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