Johnny Earles was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana. He moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he later graduated from Louisiana State University (LSU) and worked evenings as a pizza cook at a cowboy bar and pizza restaurant. Self-taught, he opened his first restaurant in 1983 which he called the Paradise Café, a beachfront café with no stove, located in Grayton Beach, Florida.
In 1989 he opened a much different place called Criolla’s, also in Grayton Beach, that was a white table cloth facility with a state-of-the-art kitchen. It was named one of Florida’s top 20 restaurants and in 1996, the Great Chefs television crew showed up to tape him for Discovery Channel’s Great Chefs of the South series.
Criolla’s closed in 2008 after a successful run of 19 years, and Chef Earles consulted to the hospitality and real estate industry until 2013, when he opened the Grayton Bar & Grill in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.