Cajun-style restaurant Seafood Island opens at 75th and Nieman in Shawnee

Seafood Island opened for business Tuesday afternoon at 75th and Nieman in Shawnee. Co-owners, from left, are Eric Lin, Qingyong Wu, Shou Chen and Yong Zheng.

Seafood Island, a new Cajun-style restaurant, opened Tuesday afternoon at 75th and Nieman in Shawnee.

Located at 10810 W. 75th St., Seafood Island is the site of a former Ryan’s Buffet restaurant.

Shawnee resident Eric Lin, who co-owns the restaurant, said he’s excited to open the restaurant and introduce his neighbors to their cuisine.

“It’s been about almost nine months to plan it,” Lin said, noting his anticipation to impress customers with the Cajun cuisine. “We’re going to do something that’s good for Midwestern customers.”

Lin said the coronavirus pandemic directly impacted his ability to renovate and open Seafood Island this spring. He had originally planned on an opening by mid-April.

The renovated interior includes several painted murals of sea life on the walls.

“Every time I asked coronavirus to go, he still stayed; that’s why I hate him,” Lin said with a wry smile.

One benefit of the delay: Lin said he and his chefs had more time to refine the menu to fit Midwestern preferences for seafood.

“The Gulf-side flavors may be different from what we have here in the middle of the States,” Lin added. “That’s why I wanted to bring in Midwestern tastes.”

At this point, the restaurant will only offer carryout and delivery orders. Lin said he and his business partners will decide at a later date when they will allow customers to dine in.

The owners have renovated the interior by replacing the buffet area with a centerpiece bar and multiple TV screens; adding painted murals of sea life along the walls; and building a stage for live entertainment.

Capacity is normally about 300 to 350 customers, but when they open to allow dining in, the restaurant will only allow a much smaller capacity. The owners also have strict cleaning regimens for staff to keep themselves and customers safe. Tables will be distancing apart, and hand sanitizing stations will be posted near the entrance.

Lin added that live entertainment will feature dinner music played by a variety of musicians.

Tentative hours of operation are 12-9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 12-11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.