“Eat and drink with an island twist” in Paducah, Kentucky
Escape to the “beach” at Flamingo Row in Paducah to “Taste. Feel. Caribbean Soul.”
Fillymingo, Flamwiches, Hullaboola Burgers and more rack up 80 tantalizing island-themed dishes.
The clever menu names are the work of its creative owner, Kathy Guyette, who says she just wants “to bring a little cheer to your day, from the hand-painted salt and pepper shakers to the 600 colorful boards covering the walls. Eating out should be fun.”
Guyette says she “fell into the restaurant business” while working for a printing company selling printing with her father for 22 years. She would make savory stuffed breads to give to her clients during the holidays. Soon people started asking her to cater and cook more items. “I started playing with it more in my home in 1994, and one thing lead to another, and I had to pick one or the other,” she says.
Learning the business
In 1996, Guyette opened a little spot for three days a week in downtown Paducah in Market House Square, which was a counter service. It was the first Flamingo Row.
“People would pick up sandwiches at the door. We’d have them hot out of the oven. At that time we only did stuffed breads and a few sandwiches for lunch only. We were open until 2 p.m.”
Business was good and Guyette expanded hours to six days a week when space opened up next door. They were able to add a few tables, and “That’s when I quit my job with the printing company,” says Guyette.
After a couple of years, in 1999, she moved to another location, the Twinkling Star, a historical site, on Broadway across from the Coca-Cola place a little ways from downtown Paducah.
“I had never worked in a restaurant in my life. It was all new. We had to learn as we went. We could serve 120 there,” she says. “We went to a full-service menu, had a bar and were open for lunch and dinner.”
In 2004, another opportunity came along from two developers who came to Guyette willing to do a build-out in a new shopping area. “This is the restaurant we built exactly the way we wanted. Seats for 260 in 6,000 square feet,” she says. Served by Jackson Purchase Energy, the restaurant opened in December 2005.
With a staff of 62, Guyette says she has some great people who have been working with her for a long time—two from the first downtown location in 1996, and several others have been with her since 2003 and 2004.
The signature stuffed Fillymingo
Guyette says the menu has kept growing. They now have the space for all the things they need to do good food, like a grill and deep fryers. “We hand-cut our own fries,” she says.
“We don’t really have a chef, everyone trains to do everything,” Guyette says. “I come up with the recipe, and we make it together as a team. I have a really good kitchen team who makes it happen.”
The signature stuffed breads, the Fillymingos, have been with them since day one, as well as many of the sandwiches that came from the Broadway location.
She says every day at 1 a.m. a bread guy comes in to make the bread that is used to stuff the Fillymingos. Even with that, they still only make about 50 percent of the bread that’s used for the stuffed bread and the sandwiches. After pre-measuring all the meat, they take cubes of cheese and other ingredients and stuff it inside the bread.
“We make the bread, rise, re-rise it, then we put the meat down, roll it, and leave it on the baking sheet to rise a third time, then bake it,” says Guyette.
With nine different fillings to choose from, they bake the Fillymingo bread throughout the day. She says some sell better than others, with the Monte Cristo outselling all others.
Guyette explains that the restaurant has a large take-out catering business. People come from Owensboro, Madisonville and all around to pick up large specialty Fillymingo loaves, large bowls of salad and more, that were ordered the night before.
“Some days we do as much catering as restaurant business,” she says. You can find the catering menu on Flamingo Row’s Facebook page.
Island hop the menu
When people come into Flamingo Row for the first time, Guyette says, “They always comment on the menu, because it’s different. It takes people a while to go through the menu because they actually have to read to figure out what they’re ordering with names like Big Kahuna Burger, Jumble Rice and Voodoo Moo (her favorite for now, the ribeye steak sandwich).” She says it also makes it kind of fun, too.
The restaurant’s top selling items are the Wave teazor (appetizer), a spinach tortilla quesadilla with chicken and a side of sour cream, lizard sauce and black bean salsa; five taco choices; and the Mermaid Delight salad, which is greens with grilled herb chicken, Boursin cheese, pecans and sliced strawberries on top with a side of raspberry vinaigrette.
Guyette’s gastronomique creations come from her imagination and love for all things tropical. With a new menu rolling out the end of February, Guyette laughs, then predicts, “We’re going to have problems with the new Chichen Itza Burger (named after the Mayan ruins by the same name in Mexico) because people are going to think it’s chicken.”
What’s on it? Provolone cheese, pork belly with plantains and guacamole. “I’ve actually never tried it, but I know it’s going to be good. How could it not be?” she says. They’ll try it out in the kitchen the week before and tweak it if necessary. “Most of the time if you cook, you know it’s going to be good with ingredients like that.”
Even the drinks have fun names. Parrothead Punch (like a piña colada, but with more fruit, and frozen), Seascape Sangria, and Mermaid Water, a stunningly bright blue drink (spiced Captain Morgan, Cruzan Coconut Rum and pineapple juice, curaçao and a splash of lime juice).
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Caribbean-themed restaurant without calypso-style music playing throughout. “I want it to be unique. It’s bright and cheery. Most restaurants are not as bright as this place. I want it to be like you are stepping into a tropical feeling,” says Guyette.
The other thing people always ask, says Guyette, is, “Did you paint all those boards on those walls? Yes! I sanded, hand painted and polyurethaned them three times … Little did I know it was going to take so many. But, I don’t have dented walls anymore.”
Flamingo Row, 2640 Perkins Creek Drive, serves lunch and dinner seven days a week, Sunday–Thursday 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.