Virgin Island native Chef Ashley Allen opens Coconuts Bar & Grill on the Mississippi Riverfront
Follow the Mississippi River up North from the Gulf Coast and you’ll find the quaint riverfront town of Vidalia, Louisiana. Concordia Parish’s largest city sits right on the LA/MS border, and it’s less than a 10-minute drive to its neighboring city Natchez. Chef Ashley Allen takes that drive every morning to his new restaurant Coconuts Bar & Grill.
“We wanted to bring something new, sexy and fresh to the area,” Allen said.
Coconuts Bar & Grill is inspired by the Virgin Islands, where he’s from the island of St. Thomas. However, his journey to the west bank of the Mississippi River started the next state over.
Allen received a call from his good friend Chef Nick Wallace, back in 2020, asking him to come down to Natchez and help lead the Church Hill Variety Group. The restaurant group is a partnership with Wallace (a Bravo Top Chef alum and Food Network Chopped Champion) and Oscar winning filmmakers Tate Taylor and John Norris. Allen and his wife Sarah previously led the culinary teams at all three restaurants—Smoot’s Grocery, The Little Easy and Church Hill Variety Restaurant & Farm.
Now, the couple is in the process of moving to Vidalia full-time. They see an area ripe with potential. It’s not uncommon for Vidalia residents to travel to Natchez, and vice versa. Allen says he loves how both Vidalia and Natchez feed off of each other.
“Something about this side of the bridge seems different than the other side,” Allen said. “I enjoy the community here, and the way each side compliments each other.”