The Fish House is a Pensacola tradition. For over thirteen years, the Fish House has been known for its fresh seafood cuisine created by Pensacola Chef Jim Shirley coupled with upscale dockside dining overlooking beautiful Pensacola Bay and Seville Harbor.
Just steps away from historic Seville Square, the award-winning restaurant features an inventive menu of fresh, daily seafood selections, house-smoked steaks, sushi, a handpicked wine list with over 300 wines, and the world-famous Grits á Ya Ya: A delectable Southern specialty of our smoked Gouda cheese grits smothered with a sauce of fresh cream, sauteed Gulf shrimp, spinach, portobello mushrooms, applewood-smoked bacon, garlic, and shallots. Full bar. Late night menu. Brunch on Sundays.
With over half a million visitors a year, locals and tourists alike enjoy the cuisine as well as the views from the restaurant’s waterfront location. Inside and outdoor dining are both available.
Jim Shirley is co-owner of Great Southern Restaurants, which owns The Fish House, Atlas Oyster House, and The Fish House Deck Bar in Pensacola, Florida, and is co-owner of the Great Southern Café in Seaside, Florida. In keeping with the times, Jim’s latest endeavor, also in Seaside, is a food truck, called The Meltdown on 30A, that specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches. For years he wrote a weekly column, “Good Grits!” for the Pensacola News Journal, and now writes on a regular basis for the newspaper’s columns “Chef’s Corner” and “Wine Time.”
Chef Jim is a member of the state board of directors of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) and president of the Northwest Florida Chapter of FRLA, founder and president of the Society of Great Southern Chefs, and a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance. As an active community leader, he dedicates time to many charities, including the Children’s Home Society of Florida (a board member of the Western Division), and is a board member of the Autism Society of the Panhandle.
Jim opened his first restaurant, Madison’s Diner, in Pensacola in 1995, opened the Screaming Coyote in 1997, and the Fish House in 1998. His style of cooking is one that he calls modern Southern cuisine. As the son of a Navy pilot who was stationed all around the world, Jim learned to enjoy a variety of cuisines from many cultures. But he always went back to his roots—his grandmothers’ traditional Southern cooking. His expertise is combining different flavors in ways unlike anyone else. He has appeared on the Travel Channel’s show “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.” He was also chosen to go to Washington, D.C., to feature his signature dish, Grits à Ya Ya, in “A Taste of the South” event.
Jim uses Southern accents with great skill and spirit, traveling far afield to graze and glean, absorbing culinary ideas and selecting wines. As a Pensacola native, Chef Jim uses his knowledge of local waters and his families’ farming history to promote the “new ruralism,” a movement to promote sustainable agriculture at the urban edge.
Chef Billy Ballou, a native Pensacolian, was an eager learner and hard worker at an early age, starting a lawn care business when he was nine. Its success was eventually recognized in the Pensacola News Journal, for by the time he was 12, he was maintaining 25 lawns each week. At the age of 15, his hard work paid off when he purchased his first vehicle, a Chevy S-10 truck, in cash.
Aside from a thriving business, the young entrepreneur had two other passions that he developed at a young age — golf and cooking. Billy was a solid competitive golfer on the Gulf Breeze High School golf team. He also pursued a love for cooking by working at restaurants after golf practice and on weekends. After graduating from high school, he gave up competitive golf to dedicate himself to becoming a chef. His reason for this career choice was the instant gratification and creative freedom he felt when he was in the kitchen.
Billy attended Johnson & Wales College and studied culinary arts. After college, he went backpacking through Scotland and England, experiencing different cultures and cuisines. Upon his return to the United States, he spent two years as a sous chef for Legendary, Inc., and then moved on to an opportunity with the Great Southern Restaurant Group, where he worked his way from prep chef to executive chef in two and a half years.
Born in Senegal, West Africa, and raised in Toulouse, France, Jean Pierre moved to New Hampshire in 1998 for 9 months to try something new but ending up cutting his stay short from the cold and relocating to sunny Pensacola, Florida. He began his employment at the Fish House as a server in 2001 and discovered his passion for the restaurant industry and only 11 months later was promoted to Service Manager; in 2009 he became the General Manager of the Fish House, Atlas Oyster House, and the Fish House Deck Bar. In January of 2010, Jean Pierre decided to make his residency official, he applied for and was granted U.S. citizenship; shortly thereafter he graduated from our own University of West Florida with a Bachelors degree in Accounting. When it comes to our restaurants Jean Pierre’s philosophy is to ensure all of our guests feel welcome and have the most memorable dining experience at Our House.