By: Tony McCray
Dontel Watson (Big Al) believes in his entrepreneurial vision and business skills and the Brownville Community to the extent that he has opened two businesses in the last five months. In business for the past 12 years, Watson just purchased the Historical Oscar’s Restaurant approximately five months ago! As an encore strategy, he just moved his seafood eatery, “Big Al’s Crab Shack” from the Raceway location on “W” Street and Fairfield Drive to the corner of “V” and Gadsden St. in Brownsville right behind Oscars.
Big Al, as he is called, has a talented following of employees which have entrepreneurial visions for themselves, however, they have cast their fate to the business actions of Watson at this time. For example, LaSonya Walker, a lovely young singer and entertainer, is part of the new staff for the seafood restaurant. Additionally, she opened at this past Sunday’s Grand Opening from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm singing with live band entertainment by Farenheight, a local four-piece ensemble. LaSonya, originally from Los Angeles, has recorded her second album called “Volume #1” with more to come she exclaimed. Another example is Dede, an attractive hostess and waitress, who also has business ideas for the real-estate industry along the Gulf Coast. She has also joined Big Al’s team to support his vision for bringing new life through business vitality in the Brownsville Community.
In an interview with the Gulf Coast Voice, during his Grand Opening on New Year’s Day, Watson acknowledged the customer and employee following that his business pursuits have generated. He shared that some members of his family have business operations in the Chicago area. Watson shared his larger vision of providing Brownsville with exciting new business activities and services in sync with the vision of County Commissioner Lumon May. He stated during the interview, “I am actively attempting to expand my business profile from my Raceway experience. My vision is to bring life, love, and economic development to Brownville. I want to raise the economic vibration.” He continued his comments by stating, “Money has no more value than what we give it. It’s just paper. I am not doing this with the sole purpose of making money. Things are changing! The climate is changing everywhere and Brownsville should not be left out of that!”
The one-story brick building on the corner of “V” Street and Gadsden Street behind Oscar’s Restaurant on Cervantes Street speaks volumes to the vision of Big Al. There is a huge crab painted on the wall which is the backdrop for LaSonya Walker’s and other entertainer’s stage performance. On the walkway to the left there are pictures painted of our local boxing great, Roy Jones Jr., and other African-American heroes. These were painted by Carter J. Gaston, another professional that has hitched his work to the Big Al show.
There are more and more stories that emanate from this main story such as Lydia Gardner, who lives in Perdido, and attends church at East Hill Church of God and Christ. Gardner stopped by Big Al’s Crab Shack because she heard “by word of mouth” that the food is great and wanted to find out for herself! The Grand Opening of the first Black-owned seafood restaurant in Pensacola looked like a huge success with a long line of customers standing inside the business on that Sunday afternoon. The Gulf Coast Voice wishes you good luck and blessings, Big Al.