It seems every time you blink there’s a new location of another national sandwich chain opening around town. Now, however, it’s a longtime, homegrown po-boy purveyor that’s found a way to expand.
Parran’s Po-Boys & Restaurant (3939 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 885-3416; parranspoboys.com) recently opened a new location in Kenner, at 2321 W. Esplanade Ave. The restaurant is part of a newly built development between the busy stretches of Williams and Power boulevards.
It’s the first expansion for the local restaurant, which marks its fourth decade in business this year.
“We hadn’t considered a second location before, but this was a case of the right place and the right time,” said Lorell Hornbrook, who runs Parran’s with her husband, Allan.
Hornbrook said the Kenner restaurant will add menu items gradually until it mirrors the offerings in Metairie. That includes po-boys built on loaves from John Gendusa Bakery, Creole-Italian entrees and Parran’s signature sandwich, the seafood muffuletta, which is like a fried seafood platter dressed with spicy mayo and packaged in the familiar seeded muffuletta loaf.
She said no changes were planned at the original restaurant.
Parran’s originally opened in 1975. The Hornbrooks bought the business in 1990. Over the past quarter-century, they’ve progressively added to the menu — plate lunches, fish tacos and, most recently, pizza — while keeping the focus on the bedrock local flavors that built the restaurant’s name.
“We stepped in and just try to give people the food they love at a good price,” said Lorell Hornbrook.
Like the original location, the Kenner version of Parran’s serves lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.
Boulevard American Grill taking shape at former Houston’s site
While the decision to close the Houston’s Restaurant in Metairie last spring remains puzzling, plans for the next restaurant that will take its place at 4241 Veterans Memorial Blvd. are becoming clearer.
It will be called Boulevard American Bistro, and it should open within the next three months, pending the progress of renovations, said Zeid Ammari, chief operating officer of the local restaurant group Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts.
“It will be casual, all-American comfort food,” Ammari said, noting that menu particulars were still being developed.
Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts bought the former Houston’s property earlier this summer from Hillstone Restaurant Group, a Los Angeles-based company that operates restaurants around the country.
In August, Creole Cuisine announced it had brought on longtime Houston’s manager Robert Hardie as a partner and to serve as general manager at the new Metairie restaurant. Hardie was manager of the Houston’s in Metairie since 1998 and had previously managed the Houston’s on St. Charles Avenue. The company also announced that Todd Trosclair, a local businessman and an owner of Galatoire’s Restaurant, is an investor in the property as well.
“We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people since we bought that property and we’ve been listening to them,” said Ammari. “Right now, what we care about is moving that property forward and opening those doors to the community again.”
The Metairie location of Houston’s had been open since 1981 and had earned a loyal following of the sort not typically enjoyed by chain restaurants in the New Orleans area. Many of its regulars reacted with a mixture of disbelief and betrayal when Hillstone announced its decision to close what seemed to be a prosperous location.
In a statement, Hillstone explained the “reason for the closure is to allow greater attention and resources to be (focused) on the Houston’s Restaurant on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans,” which remains open.
While his company develops its own plans for Boulevard American Bistro, Ammari said he and his partners are well aware that people are likely to measure the finished product against their memories of Houston’s.
“We will absolutely respect the tradition that was built in that restaurant, for consistent food, for that great quality of service, and by having Robert (Hardie) with us, we’re feeling very confident that we can do that,” he said.
Ammari said renovations now underway will give Boulevard American Bistro a brighter, fresher look than its predecessor.
Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts has seen rapid growth in the past few years. In 2013, it opened the modern Louisiana restaurant Kingfish and bought the historic Broussard’s Restaurant. In 2014, the company added Café Maspero and the Bombay Club to its portfolio. It now also has a riverfront wedding and banquet facility under development in the French Market after taking over the 7,000-sqaure-foot space that was previously Restaurant Galvez (and also the well-known pre-Katrina home to the restaurant Bella Luna). Ammari said significant renovations are in the works for the event facility, which should open by early 2016.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.