Six months after winning the legal right to use the name Camellia Grill, restaurant owner Hicham Khodr hung a familiar sign this week over the front door of the French Quarter branch of the popular Uptown restaurant, putting an end to its decidedly more anonymous incarnation as “The Grill.”
The restaurant at 540 Chartres St. just completed a three-month renovation and will reopen at 8 a.m.
Saturday under the familiar sign bearing a green fork sprouting a bright pink camellia below the phrase “Since 1946.”
“We are so excited to have our name back,” Khodr said in an email. “Camellia Grill is an institution in this city, and people associate it with an authentic, vibrant New Orleans diner experience.”
Khodr bought the original Camellia Grill on South Carrollton Avenue in Riverbend in 2006 and opened the Chartres Street location four years later, only to be informed that the previous owner still claimed ownership of the restaurant’s name and logo.
Khodr’s Uptown Grill LLC sued the former owner for the rights to the name in 2013 and took “Camellia” out of the name of the French Quarter restaurant until the issue was sorted out.
In July, a federal judge ruled that Khodr had indeed purchased the name, logo and other trademarks when he bought the restaurant.
The previous owner, Camellia Grill Holdings Inc., has appealed the ruling and oral arguments will be heard by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals early next year.
Khodr said the ruling came at a time when he was considering some upgrades to the French Quarter location, and “the reclaiming of our name provided us with an ideal opportunity to refresh the Camellia Grill brand and put our best foot forward.”
Renovations to the counter-style diner include new interior furnishings and equipment, such as grills, fryers and refrigeration units to create omelets, burgers, pies and other traditional menu items.
The Chartres location has a new general manager, Tom Burton, though longtime waiters Ricky Coston and Branden Garrison will still be behind the counter.
Khodr said the restaurant will move away from its traditional male-dominated wait staff but will retain the same atmosphere, marked by friendly banter between staff and customers.
Khodr said the French Quarter location, whose winding counter can seat 42 patrons, serves beer, wine, mimosas and bloody marys.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated Dec. 28 to reflect that the former owner of Camellia Grill has appealed the July ruling that Khodr owns the restaurant’s name.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.