‘Keep on keeping on:’ Whitemarsh restaurant in new hands, but owner’s legacy will live on

Local News

WHITEMARSH ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) – History and consistency are two of the main ingredients that make Papa’s Bar-B-Que and Seafood what it is.

The restaurant has been a staple in the Savannah community for almost 50 years. It’s now in new hands, but the owner plans to continue the legacy of a man loved by many.

Frank Ouzts inherited the restaurant from his father 50 years ago, naming it Papa’s after in his honor. Frank and his wife, Judy, ran it together for almost 40 years.

One month ago, Frank died in a motorcycle accident.

Before his death, Frank and Judy were already planning to sell Papa’s and retire.

“It’s been our whole life,” Judy said. “Frank and I worked for a long, long time and we were ready to retire. We were supposed to do it together.”

Justin Waters, the new owner, didn’t just buy the restaurant’s name — all of the recipes and staff will stay the same. A longtime fan of Papa’s himself, Waters said he has big shoes to fill.

“The things that I was getting in the mid-90s, you know 25 years ago or so, the barbecue on two buns, Brunswick stew is exactly the same today as I remember it then,” Waters said. “I think that’s what keeps people coming back is the consistency, they know what to expect, they’re going to get the same thing they’ve been loving over the years.”

For Frank and Judy, customers became their friends and family.

“I can’t tell you how many customers have come in talking about things Frank and Judy have both done,” Waters said. “They’ve had a death in the family, they would show up with food. They didn’t even know how Frank and Judy knew about the death but they would show up at their house with just loads of food for them.”

As Judy moves into this next chapter, she said going back to the place she and her husband built brings a sense of comfort.

“There’s so much work to do with this transition and just taking care of business, that’s what I’ve been doing,” she said. “And family and friends. Just keep on keeping on.”

The sale of Papa’s Bar-B-Que and Seafood was made official last week. The restaurant first opened on W. Bay Street in 1972 before moving to Whitemarsh in the early ’90s. It has been in its current location off of Islands Expressway for 14 years.

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