by Ian McNulty
Local restaurateur Hicham Khodr plans to open a French Quarter rendition of the historic Camellia Grill.
He says construction will begin within a few weeks at 534 Chartres St. The building was long the site of Keuffer's Bar and later housed a succession of short-lived restaurants, though it has sat empty for some time.
"It will look like Camellia Grill, the same thing, only I might have more stools here," he says.
Some veteran waiters of the original Camellia Grill will split their time with the French Quarter location in an effort to lend the new place a convincing feel, he says, and the menu will remain the same.
The news marks the latest move by a restaurateur who has been very busy lately.
Khodr is a partner in the local Byblos chain of Middle Eastern restaurants and in Emeril Lagasse's restaurant NOLA. He bought the original Camellia Grill after Hurricane Katrina and reopened it in 2007.
Last spring, Khodr opened a Camellia Grill in the upscale waterfront development Harbor Walk Village in Destin, Fla. However, an expansion in Baton Rouge announced earlier is now on hold, he says.
More recently, he also bought the Gumbo Shop and has said he wants to expand that casual restaurant to other cities as well. Late last year, he opened a new seafood restaurant, called Catch (3226 Magazine St., 371-5809), in the former Semolina location.