The chance that a New Orleanian washing up on the shores of Destin, Fla. and momentarily believing himself to be in some bizarro version of the Crescent City complete with familiar but out-of-place landmarks is about to increase a bit.
Local restaurateur Hicham Khodr plans to open the doors on an expansion site of the historic Camellia Grill in the upscale waterfront development Harbor Walk Village in Destin next week, with a ribbon-cutting booked for the morning of April 16.
The replica of the vintage Riverbend diner will join expansion locations of such New Orleans institutions as Commander's Palace and Pat O'Brien's at the Florida development. There's even an outpost of the Jester Mardi Gras Daiquiris company, which started on Bourbon Street.
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. More recently, he bought the Gumbo Shop and has said he wants to expand that casual restaurant to other cities as well.
The new Camellia Grill will use the same menu and has a similar design, right down to the green stools, pink paint and Mickey Mouse clock on the wall. But it is larger (with 46 stools lining the diner counter, compared to 29 at the original) and has deck overlooking the beach.
Camellia Grill Destin is at 2 Harbor Blvd., Destin, FL 850-650-2907