What will it take to make Howard Avenue great again?
They hadn’t seen each other since high school, but now two Coast businessmen are opening a downtown restaurant inspired by their hometown.
Parrain’s Jambalaya Kitchen should open in mid-June, said Marlen Babin. The restaurant at 179 Reynoir St. is across from Saenger Theater, near Merit Health Biloxi and MGM Park.
Jambalaya with chicken and sausage or pork and sausage will top the menu for lunch and dinner.
“We’re from the jambalaya capital of the world,” said Mike Alise. He and Babin grew up in Gonzales, Louisiana, south of Baton Rouge.
“We haven’t seen each other in 40 years,” Alise said.
Babin owns Anytime Fitness in D’Iberville, and when Alise went to sign up at the gym, they reconnected. Alise operates Gulf Coast Produce in Biloxi with his wife, Christi, and provides produce both locally grown and from around the world to restaurants in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and the Florida panhandle.
Now they will bring the Cajun cooking they grew up on to Biloxi.
Pastalaya, which is jambalaya made with pasta instead of rice, also will be on the menu along with gumbo, both made with chicken and sausage. Occasionally crawfish etouffe also will be featured.
Adding extra Louisiana flavor will be boudin balls and cracklins, along with sides such as white beans and potato salad.
Dessert will be Southern classics, Babin said, featuring gourmet pecan pie, strawberry cake and New Orleans bread pudding.
“I’ve been self-employed for 45 years and this is my first restaurant,” Babin said.
The Jambalaya Kitchen isn’t open yet, but the friends said they prepared 250 plates for the Biloxi Police Department the day after the shooting of officer Robert McKeithen.
“We’re a big give back company,” Babin said. They also cooked at the Thunderbirds air show in Biloxi and at the Free Flowin’ on the Riverfront music Festival in Pascagoula last month.