by Ian McNulty
Local restaurateur Hicham Khodr has bought the Gumbo Shop, the French Quarter restaurant that has been in business near Jackson Square since 1948. He bought both the restaurant and catering operation this week from William Roberts and chef Richard Stewart, who is also co-author of the "Joe Simmer" series of cookbooks.
Khodr says he plans no major changes to the Gumbo Shop's menu or operations, though he does hope to open additional Gumbo Shop locations in other markets in the future.
The purchase and expansion plans follow a pattern Khodr set after Katrina when he bought Camellia Grill and reopened the landmark Riverbend diner, whose post-storm future was then in doubt. A second Camellia Grill is set to open in Baton Rouge as part of a large, mixed-use development called Perkins Rowe now under construction.
Khodr and his business partners in 3 of a Kind Restaurant Group own the local Byblos chain of Middle Eastern restaurants, which they have recently expanded with a new restaurant called Zaya in the Atlanta area.
Immediately after Katrina, they opened Table One, an upscale bistro which closed last fall.
Khodr is also a partner with Emeril Lagasse at the celebrity chefs French Quarter restaurant NOLA, which opened in 1992 in a St. Louis Street building Khodr owns.
-- Ian McNulty