A prime corner in South City got a new seafood-centric tenant this past fall. Hook & Reel opened on Nov. 12, filling the space previously occupied by a location of Applebee’s that closed last July after nearly a decade in business.

“Hook & Reel is essentially a seafood concept that’s been inspired by traditional southern cooking from parts of Louisiana, including social events surrounding seafood boils,” regional director of operations Ed O’Grady says. “It’s an opportunity for people to come together and enjoy the food, flavors and social experience in the neighborhood.”

According to O’Grady, the brand currently has 23 locations. Hook & Reel was founded in Lanham, Maryland, in 2015, and the St. Louis outpost is the first in the Midwest. It is owned by franchise owner-operator Vicky Jiang, who was introduced to Hook & Reel while visiting its Staten Island location. Jiang has also owned Chinese restaurants in the St. Louis area.

Hook & Reel fills an approximately 5,335-square-foot space, with seats for around 248 guests. The bar and restaurant retains its predecessor’s layout, featuring booth seating around the perimeter of the space and a central bar. Nautical decor fills the dining area, as well as murals of local sports teams.

“Our #1 signature is our seafood boil because of the way it’s presented, its fresh taste, as well as the signature sauces we employ,” O’Grady says. “It’s served in a unique way in a big steamed bag, like a balloon filled with seafood deliciousness that comes out to your table.”

Guests can build their own seafood combos for the boils – crab legs, shrimp and lobster tails are popular picks – or choose from preset combo boils such as a Cajun boil with a half pound each of crawfish, black mussels and head-off shrimp with corn and potatoes. Sauce options include original Cajun, seasoned garlic butter and more, each at mild, spicy or fire heat levels.

Additional specialties include po’boy sandwiches available with chicken, fried fish or Vicky’s personal favorite: shrimp. Breaded or fried chicken wings are another popular pick with your choice of flavor: barbecue, Cajun, buffalo or lemon pepper.

From the bar, choose from bottled and draft beers, wine by the glass and a selection of signature cocktails including the Island Ferry with coconut rum, blue curacao, pineapple juice and sour mix.

“I think that with any regional area that has great cuisine as St. Louis does – barbecue comes to mind – it’s all about the seasoning and the smoke,” O’Grady says. “The same goes for us. Our seasoning, service, environment and decor really sets us apart from the competition.”

Hook & Reel is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:30am to 10pm and Friday through Saturday from 11:30am to 11pm.

Hook & Reel, 4680 Chippewa St., Bevo, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.282.0770, hookreel.com