By Alyssa Schnugg
Chef and Restauranter John Currence and the City Grocery Restaurant Group are hoping to bring the Big Easy to the Little Easy with the opening of a new po’boy restaurant on the Square.
The new restaurant, which hasn’t formally been named yet, will be located at 208 South Lamar Boulevard, next to Square Books. The location has been home to a slew of restaurants over the years including Grundy’s, Smitty’s, 208 and more recently, Stella Restaurant and Bar.
Built in 1880, the building has been renovated several times since with a major overhaul in 1945.
Currence said the group is still formulating the complete concept of the new restaurant.
“Basically what we want to do is reproduce a po’boy shop like I grew up with in New Orleans and have disappeared at an alarming rate in the last 30 years (due to chain restaurants),” he said Friday.
The menu will consist of traditional New Orleans favorites like gumbo, crawfish etouffee and shrimp creole, as well as a variety of small plates with items ranging from broiled oysters to marinated white beans, Currence said.
“We are banking on the connection between Oxford and New Orleans and the level of comfort that NOLA working man’s food brings to be successful,” he said.
The renovation includes creating an upstairs rum-themed bar with a balcony.
“We will feature a rum-heavy cocktail menu and offer a couple of frozen drinks as well,” Currence said.
However, the restaurant group has to first jump over the hurdle of having the renovations, and balcony approved by the Courthouse Square Preservation Commission that is considering the case at 5 p.m. tonight (June 3) at City Hall.
If approved, the Oxford Board of Aldermen will then have to approve a revocable license for use of the public space in which the balcony will be located.
‘Here comes another poor boy!’
According to www.frenchquarter.com, the po’boy first became popular around the 1920s and was invented by Clovis and Benjamin Martin who were former streetcar drivers who opened a restaurant in New Orleans in the 1920s.
When streetcar drivers went on strike in 1929, it’s said the Martin brothers created an inexpensive sandwich of gravy and spare bits of roast beef and serve the unemployed workers out of the rear of their restaurant. When a streetcar driver would order one of the sandwiches, the order in the kitchen would go out as “Here comes another poor boy!”