Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

NOLA Meets Norman: Good Life Brings Cajun Flavors to Campus Corner

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

NOLA Meets Norman: Good Life Brings Cajun Flavors to Campus Corner

Article excerpt

NORMAN - Restaurateur Jack Hooper has a fondness for New Orleans. His son attended school at Tulane University, and Hooper has made many trips to the Crescent City himself. He even previously operated a Cajun restaurant in Norman called the Red Parrot Cafe.

On Monday, he and his Good Life Dining company partners will open their fifth restaurant, Jax Soul Kitchen. Its name was inspired by New Orleans' Jackson Square.

Good Life Dining operates Blackbird Gastropub, Blu Fine Wine and Food, Brewhouse and The Library Bar & Grill. Jax is at 575 S. University Blvd., adjacent to Blackbird Gastropub. It was formerly the location of In The Raw Sushi and Bootleggers burger restaurant and sports bar.

Good Life Dining partner John Howell said the company thought about the concept for a year. Hooper said he and his partners were also concerned about what future business could be their neighbor.

"If someone is going to come in here and take a hit on our Blackbird, it might as well be us," he said.

The restaurant's menu will use some of the former Red Parrot Cafe recipes, as well as the same kinds of smoked meats previously offered at Hooper's former Coach's Bar & Grill. The restaurant will open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

"We felt this was something that Norman didn't have," Hooper said.

Hooper and Howell visited soul food and barbecue restaurants across the country to create the menu. It does not have an appetizer section, rather the "Eats" section features dishes that can be eaten as a main course or shared. Several items feature meat or seafood. Hooper said the most notable seafood plate is the smoked shrimp and grits.

"It's special," he said. "You can really taste the smoke in it."

A version of shrimp and grits was once on the Red Parrot menu, but this version's shrimp will be lightly dusted and then flash fried. The menu's prices will range from $8 to $18, though Howell said most of the highest-priced items will be about $14.

He said the price point is kept accessible to everyone in Norman, from college students to Gov. Mary Fallin. He said the staff is trained to be ready for anyone and to treat all customers the same. …

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