When Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas gulf coast in August 2017, ocean-front restaurants like Black Marlin Bar & Grill in Port Aransas, Texas, were impaled by high-force winds, torrential rain, and rising tides.
Black Marlin, which is a part of the Palmilla Beach Resort & Golf Community, was devastated by the storm as was the property’s manicured golf course.
Like other businesses across Mustang Island, Black Marlin was forced to re-build post-Harvey, but it has come out of the experience stronger than ever before.
Executive Chef Gail Huesmann is the heart and soul of Black Marlin, where she serves lunch and dinner to loyal patrons every day.
“While we may be outside of Port Aransas, we are still a part of Port Aransas, and it’s just a deep sense of love for the community.”
Prior to working in restaurants, Chef Gail went to culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu where she eventually taught and became Dean of Students at the Chicago campus. Today, however, Port Aransas is home and a place she is proud to live and work.
“I think what got me the most post-Harvey was driving through Port Aransas and seeing the other restaurants,” she said.
Due to Black Marlin’s more remote oceanfront location, Chef Gail knew her restaurant was more vulnerable than others. “It was kind of devastating to see but not completely unexpected,” she said adding, “Driving into town was a lot harder.”
For many locals of Mustang Island, their entire livelihoods were swept away when Harvey made landfall. The real beauty of Port Aransas is personified by the resilient people who call it home.
“It’s really a tough community,” said Chef Gail. “A lot of grit, a lot of guts, and they’re coming back,” she said.
After the hurricane, Chef Gail and her Black Marlin team hosted a big party for the community.
There was live music playing and a spirit of camaraderie and service that survived the storm. “We were here all day long feeding people,” she said. The party offered exhausted locals an opportunity to eat, relax and relieve their minds.
Today, one year after Harvey, Black Marlin Bar & Grill is a picture of reinvention. Inside, modern lines and rustic wooden floors give off a clean coastal vibe. Black and white photos hang on the walls next to white-washed urchin shells and starfish set in shadow boxes. Other wall hangings include a bronze stingray sculpture and oyster-shell mirrors. Latticed wicker furniture gives the space an inviting, shabby-chic appeal while vases filled with sand and shells add a homey, beachy ambiance.
From the back-lit wooden bar, mixologists shake cocktails, such as the popular cucumber and jalapeño margarita, while diners face the dunes and the sea from the restaurant’s large glass windows.
In the back of the house, Chef Gail is busy filling orders, from omelets to lobster tostadas and golden crab cakes.
Her most popular dish, however, is the shrimp and grits, which she grinds herself. Beloved by patrons from 8 to 85-years-old, the dish is decadent and fresh, a not-to-miss entree on your next visit to Black Marlin.
Of all the tools she works with, Chef Gail’s True Manufacturing pizza prep station is her favorite of all. Her so-called “window to the world,” keeps her refrigerated ingredients prepped, organized, and ready for quick, efficient meal assembly.
When Chef Gail isn’t working in the kitchen, she is navigating her way through the brightly lit dining room, visiting with guests and making them feel at home. In fact, her go-to greeting is simply “Welcome Home,” a testament to the warm and inviting Black Marlin mentality.
From providing new foodservice equipment and supplies to helping design and layout their new building development (which is slated to open in the near future) Mission has been honored to work with Chef Gail on the re-birth of Black Marlin. “Every time I’ve needed something from Mission it’s been answered,” she said. “They’ve taken good care of me, and I’m glad.”
BLACK MARLIN BAR & GRILL FAVORITES:
Black Marlin Bar & Grill is located within the Palmilla Beach Resort & Golf Community at 258 Snapdragon, Port Aransas, Texas 78373 | 361-749-4653 | palmillabeach.com/palmilla-amenities/black-marlin-grill-lookout-bar
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