Plenty of teams from the Hogs for the Cause charity cook off draw on the talent of New Orleans chefs. Now, one of those chefs is turning his Hogs experience into a Mid-City barbecue restaurant.
Ray Gruezke, chef/owner of the Mid-City bistro Rue 127, is now developing his new Frey Smoked Meat Co. a few blocks away at 4141 Bienville St. He hopes to open in early fall.
Frey Smoked Meat Co.’s address is part of the Mid-City Market development. It’s in a building that was previously home to Loubat foodservice supply, which is being renovated as a mix of office and retail space. The new restaurant will have a full bar and roll-up doors opening to outdoor seating.
This will be the second barbecue eatery to stake a claim in Mid-City this year. Blue Oak BBQ, currently based inside the music club Chickie Wah Wah, plans to open its own stand-alone restaurant about eight blocks away in the former Fellini’s Café. This restaurant, at 900 N. Carrollton Ave., is slated to open in late April.
Gruezke sees his own niche for Frey Smoked Meat Co. as a casual, full-service restaurant that starts with ribs and brisket and such but also extends beyond barbecue. He’ll serve salads, sandwiches and burgers, redfish on the half shell and other dishes. “Endymion fried chicken,” a parade-day special served up once a year at Rue127, will have a permanent place on the menu here, as will a mac-and-cheese side dish that has proven popular at the bistro. Expect also to see “freakshakes,” or milkshakes in flavors like dulce-caramel and Nutella-peanut butter.
“We want it to be a casual everyday place where you can come in and still get a full service meal,” Gruezke said. “And we’ll do delivery, which as someone who lives in Mid-City I think we direly need here.”
The genesis for Frey Smoked Meat Co. started at City Park, where since 2013 Gruezke’s family has fielded a Hogs for the Cause team, also dubbed Frey Smoked Meat Co. At the annual event, which raises money for pediatric brain cancer support services, more than 90 teams now compete in various categories of whole hog cookery. After his team placed first for best ribs and finished high overall in the competition, Gruezke decided to develop a permanent concept around his ‘cue.
“We did the cook off for fun in the beginning, but I’ve been looking for a second concept and this fit really well,” he said.
For the name Frey Smoked Meat Co., Gruezke reached farther back into family history. His great-great grandfather Andreas Frey was an immigrant from the Alsace-Lorraine region on the French/German border. In the 1850s he had a stall in the French Market. This became L.A. Frey and Sons, which evolved into a meat packing company based in Lafayette and a commercial brand used across the region.
Gruzeke, a New Orleans native, opened his first restaurant in 2010. Rue 127, housed in a former single shotgun along, is known for its cozy contours and the chef’s knack for turning broadly familiar American bistro standards into unique standouts, with often understated touches.
Frey Smoked Meat Co. will serve dinner daily, lunch on weekdays and add breakfast on weekends.
The Gruezke team will be competing again this year at Hogs for the Cause, which is April 1 and 2 at City Park.
Frey Smoked Meat Co.
4141 Bienville St. anticipated opening fall 2016
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.