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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Burgeoning burgers and beignets

Posted By on Tue, May 8, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Straight-up burger and fries from New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co.
  • Ian McNulty
  • Straight-up burger and fries from New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co.

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, which opened just last week, is in the French Quarter, taking over the historic building that had long been Ristorante Carmelo’s (now located in Mandeville) 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 on St. Charles Avenue, taking over the former Cannon’s Restaurant space. A few months later the company opened a Harvey restaurant on Lapalco Boulevard too.

The new French Quarter location, formerly Carmelos.

The new French Quarter location has many twists on the company’s restaurant model. It’s the first with a full-service format rather than counter service, and its menu adds a number of 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 is also 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 around the region, McGoey says, and it will also 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.

These will either be stand-alone shops or attached to New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co. restaurants, he says.

Like its other locations, the French Quarter edition of the New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co. serves lunch and dinner daily.

New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co.
541 Decatur St., 309-7902

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