BY EMERY LAY
FOR THE OPELIKA OBSERVER
Clint Rogers is originally from Moss Point, Mississippi, a small town on the Gulf Coast. When Rogers was 13, he moved to Troy, Alabama, where he went to college before transferring to Auburn University.
Rogers graduated in 2000 with a bachelors in hotel & restaurant management and set off to New Orleans to begin his career in hospitality. During his time there, the city dropped two things in Rogers’ lap: his wife and his passion for crawfish.
After marrying his wife, Kim, the couple relocated to Auburn in 2005. To make new friends, the two decided to host crawfish and shrimp boils in their own backyard two or three times a year. This proved to be a great way to entertain and connect with the Auburn community.
“We loved sharing our Louisiana experience with friends and neighbors and really enjoyed getting feedback from them on their experience,” Rogers said. “After several years of hosting boils, and being asked, ‘Have you ever thought about doing this as a business?’ I decided to take the plunge and open my own crawfish business.
“Before opening my business, I worked for 10 years as a food sales rep consulting and selling food to local restaurateurs. During this time, I learned a lot about the ‘do’s and don’t’s’ of running a successful foodservice business. My experience from these 10 years laid the groundwork for me to open my own business and made things a little less stressful than they would have been otherwise.”
Big Blue Crawfish was launched in October 2015. At the time, Rogers worked a full-time job in food sales and was advised by most not to quit his day job. Hence, the business began as a food truck, which Rogers considered “the most economical way of starting a business” and would allow him to work on a part-time basis.
During that stint, Rogers would work full-time in food sales during the week and boil crawfish on the weekends. That eventually changed when, after nine months, Rogers made the decision to make Big Blue Crawfish a full-time venture.
The business opened the Cajun market, located at 2611 Pepperell Parkway, Opelika, in 2019, still adhering to the food truck business model for its hours of operation. Rogers expressed that he sticks with this model for how it allows him to be hands-on and offers flexibility for catering.
“I do all of the boiling when we’re open,” Rogers said. “Since we do a fair amount of on-site catering, having the flexibility of changing our weekly hours allows me to be flexible in moving between boiling at my market and catering jobs. I realize that this is a bit of an unconventional way of doing business, but it seems to be working okay thus far.”
For repeat customers, or first-timers Rogers recommends checking their Google hours or following the Big Blue Crawfish Facebook page for updates. The business is currently working on creating a website for its customers to refer to in the future.
Rogers admits that picking a favorite food off the menu is difficult — but if he had to choose, he would recommend the Hot Boiled Crawfish. Apart from crawfish, shrimp and crab legs, Big Blue Crawfish also serves soups: Seafood Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice, Crawfish Étouffée, Crawfish Chowder and Jambalaya.
In addition, Big Blue Crawfish offers Cajun-boiled peanuts. Both soups and peanuts are seasonal, with a more consistent presence on the menu beginning in the fall.
“There have been many challenges to starting a crawfish business in Auburn/Opelika, but I would have to say that the biggest challenge is simply getting the crawfish from Louisiana to Auburn,” Rogers said. “The logistical part of that process has taken some time to figure out, but we found a consistent supplier of good quality crawfish and a delivery process that works.”
Rogers said he could not talk about Big Blue Crawfish without giving his children, Rylee (13) and Parker (10), credit for the inspiration. Additionally, he considers the most rewarding portion of starting his own business has been meeting so many awesome people over the past five years.
“Seeing the smiles on our customers’ faces and hearing how excited they are about having a good, local Cajun market has been priceless,” Rogers said.