They came to pick at the leftovers of Red Bean’s Bayou Grill, the restaurant at 7447 W. 21st St. that closed last week after 16 years in business.
One man snagged a concrete alligator and a decorative life preserver, perfect for his cabin, he said.
One bid on a glowing Bud Light sign, perfect for her garage, she said.
One paid $1,250 for an alligator skin. A member of a local Cajun band won a neon sign bearing the band’s name.
On Monday, Bill Rowe held the first of two auctions that will clear his Red Bean’s Bayou Grill of all of its contents. Monday’s auction, presided over by auctioneer Bud Palmer, focused on the decor: a beer can collection, stuffed and mounted animals, neon signs. On Wednesday, the remaining booths and commercial-grade kitchen appliances and tools will be auctioned.
Rowe, who bought the restaurant from founder Richard Waite in 2008, decided to close the Cajun restaurant to focus on his Blue Moon Caterers, he said.
The sale drew about 120 people, said Rowe, and most were collectors looking for something unusual. The auction included about 2,000 items, many of them auctioned in lots.
Though he hadn’t tallied up all the sales yet, Rowe said, the auction went well. When he checked late in the morning, collectors had bought about $7,000 worth of stuff.
Before the sale was opened to the public, Rowe said, he let founder Waite take a few items that were special to him, including a turkey and a buck that had been shot and mounted.
Rowe kept a few mementos, too, including a Red Bean’s sign. It was harder than he thought to see it all go, he said.
“Business is business, but it’s also a big part of your life as a human,” he said as the auction was wrapping up around noon Monday. “It’s hard to be dispassionate about it.”
During the restaurant’s final days in business, Rowe said, he learned that longtime fans were anything but dispassionate about Red Bean’s. It was packed, he said, and the restaurant did about two weeks’ worth of sales in four days.
It gave Rowe an idea, which he plans to carry out in February.
He said he’ll throw a big Fat Tuesday party at his event venue, Villa Luna, at 8406 W. Central.
It’ll have an extravagant Cajun buffet featuring all the Red Bean’s menu favorites plus live music and more.
Fat Tuesday will be on Feb. 17 in 2015.