J. Gumbo’s, a Cajun restaurant chain, has opened a new location at 1990 N. High St. near the corner of 18th Avenue and High, an area where restaurants come and go quickly.
Brandon Salamone, franchise owner of the new J. Gumbo’s, realizes that many businesses struggle to stay afloat on High Street.
“I think the longevity will be in our signature dishes that you cannot get anywhere else,” Salamone said. “It’s like McDonald’s. You can’t get McDonald’s hamburger and french fries anywhere else, so you will always have that craving if that’s what you like. And McDonald’s, just like we do, always introduces some kind of new twist to keep people’s curiosity piqued.”
Mohammad Hadad, an employee at Ali Baba Mediterranean Grill located three stores down the road, doesn’t believe that J. Gumbo’s will be hurting the neighboring businesses on High Street.
“Our business hasn’t been hurting at all since they opened,” Hadad said. “Everybody is going to get their own customers, because we all sell a different kind of food. So we do the best that we can, and hope that customers keep coming to us when they want our kind of food.”
Students returning from the Sugar Bowl won’t have to miss eating the traditional Cajun food they experienced in New Orleans.
“For me, I’ve always loved the culture, and I think it’s some of the best food in the world,” Salamone said. “It’s an ethnic food. It’s not necessarily going to hurt you from a spice standpoint, but there is a lot of flavor. It’s something different, and I think variety is good, which is why I think we kind of stand out.”
J. Gumbo’s brings a style of food that central Ohioans are not usually accustomed to eating.
“I’m from South Carolina. Usually the food up here is kind of disgusting, but this food made my day,” said Daenayia Hudson, a first-year in music performance.
J. Gumbo’s brings traditional dishes from New Orleans like jambalaya, Creole gumbo and po’boy sandwiches.
“Our recipes were all founded by Billy Fox Jr. He’s an ex-(horse) jockey from Louisiana, and he basically took a lot of the recipes from his grandmother,” Salamone said. “He kind of took them, made them his own, and that’s where we are today.”
Also on the menu are vegetarian dishes.
“I don’t eat meat, and usually vegetarian food tastes kind of grainy and can be disgusting,” said Shauna Davis, a first-year in English, about J. Gumbo’s bumblebee stew. “This was really good though, and I was really surprised.”
J. Gumbo’s has a catering service, delivers and is open until 4 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.