The Boiler 65: Cajun-style southern boil the Cleveland way
By Lexi Hotchkiss
When you pull up a seat at one of the many wax paper-covered tables inside The Boiler 65 in the Gordon Square Arts District, you might want to put away your cell phone. And, your white silk blouse. And, your stiletto mani.
That’s because things are about to get messy. And we mean that in the most delicious way possible.
Huge bags filled with generously sauced steamed shellfish, corn and potatoes come triumphantly delivered to the table complete with bibs, gloves and buckets. That’s when diners dive into these heavenly heaps ready to peel, crack and devour amidst cold beers and classic hurricanes.
“We specialize in southern boils in which everything comes in a bag,” said Team Ny, co-owner of The Boiler 65. “That’s why our motto is, ‘Get messy and eat with your hands.’”
The Boiler 65’s menu consists of various shellfish—snow crab, king crab, crawfish, shrimp, mussels, oysters, clams, lobster—steamed in your choice of three distinct "secret" sauces including O.G. Butter Sauce, Lemon Peppa and Bomb Diggity with the option for extras like corn on the cob, red potatoes and beef sausage.
For non-boil types, the menu also includes items like their raved-about catfish and perch dinners. Or if you're a land-lover amidst a sea of fish fans, go for the country fried wings or Southern chicken rolls.
Admittedly, the duo aren’t trained restaurateurs.
After graduating from John Marshall High School in Cleveland, Team and his sister Srey fell in love with the awesomeness of Cajun boils, a staple of southern Louisiana. Following his departure from the Navy, Team and Srey set out to open a southern boil-style restaurant all their own.
“We spent years and years and years and years learning how to do this—everything from the cooking, to the business, to the restaurant’s design,” Team said. “There wasn’t anyone in Cleveland doing anything like this. So, we had to teach ourselves.”
The 150-seat restaurant’s location within the progressive west side Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood was no accident. That’s where the brother-sister pair and their family immigrated to during the late ‘80s.
It was during the Cambodian Civil War when the siblings’ mother found herself in labor within the confines of a hidden, illegal Cambodian refugee camp just inside the border of Thailand. The Ny family had undergone years of trauma during the Cambodian Genocide inflicted by the Khmer Rouge.
“My mom was pregnant with me and knew she needed a C-section. There was no one to help her in the refugee camp. But, she didn’t want to see any more children die,” Team said. “So, my father ran to get help and, thankfully, he found a hospital run by the UN—the good guys.”
Shortly thereafter, the baby was safely delivered by a nurse who named the boy “Team.”
Soon, Team’s grandmother tracked down the family and moved them to an apartment where she was living in Cleveland, which was just down the street from St. Helena Romanian Byzantine Catholic Church.
A portion of what was once that church property is now the home of The Boiler 65.
“We’ve always wanted to bring something back to our old neighborhood,” Team said. “We would never have this kind of opportunity in Cambodia.”
Team, Srey and their business partner, Lawrence Harris, opened The Boiler 65 in June of 2017. The concept has been a smash hit.
“We’ve received so much support from the community,” Team said. “Gordon Square is just exploding. It’s such a big change from when I lived here.”
At the end of the day, Team just wants folks to know that hard work pays off.
“You can go beyond your dreams in America,” Team said. “This is the greatest country ever!”
To learn more, visit www.theboiler65.com.