The local chain New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co. had been grilling burgers and frying catfish for 26 years without a location actually in New Orleans proper. But two of the three new locations the company has added in the last 16 months alone are in Orleans Parish, and more are in the works.

  The latest opened May 1 in the French Quarter (541 Decatur St., 309-7902;, taking over the historic building that had long been Ristorante Carmelo and was more recently the Riverfront Restaurant.

  "We always wanted to have New Orleans locations, but it was always just a question of real estate," says Paul McGoey, an owner and managing partner of New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co.

  The company was founded in 1984 and now has nine locations around the metro area. Its first New Orleans expansion came in November 2010 at 4141 St. Charles Ave. The new French Quarter location is the company's first with a full-service format rather than counter service, and its menu adds new entrees and appetizers, plus there's an oyster bar. These service changes are partly in response to the French Quarter building's floor plan, which rises five stories and now has dining rooms on the first three floors. But McGoey says the format here also is a test case for how the company may design new locations or remodel some of its existing restaurants.

  "We've been working on this model for some time, and this location really lends itself to that model," he says.

  The company is planning to expand further in New Orleans and the region, McGoey says, and it also will expand its New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Co., a coffee and sweet shop concept first introduced as part of its Uptown location.

  "We have three locations for New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Co. planned in the next six months," he says.