New Orleans fare coming to Broadway
Original PoBoys will open Friday at Broadway and Alhambra Boulevard, bringing what owner Eric Crawford said will be an “oasis for anyone from New Orleans.”
Crawford said the restaurant will offer authentic New Orleans food served in a fast food setting, and everything served – from the signature shrimp po’boy sandwich to the beignets – will be something found on menus throughout New Orleans.
“It has that smell you only get in mom-and-pop shops down south, and it has a Mardi Gras ambiance,” he said.
Three generations will work at the restaurant, as Crawford and his wife, Zena, have six children of their own, and Crawford’s mother, Alice Thiel, will help out.
Eric Crawford’s background is in construction, which helped the family save money when preparing the restaurant to open.
“I worked in construction here, but then the housing market fell apart,” he said. “That helped when it came time to open the restaurant, though.”
Originally from New Orleans, he met Zena Crawford in San Francisco, and they have lived in Sacramento for close to a decade. He said the current restaurant, at 3119 Broadway, is the first in what he hopes will be something he can franchise.
The signature sandwich is the shrimp po’boy, which has a medley of Cajun spices mixed in with the breading, but not so much that it overpowers the taste of the shrimp, which he said is what shines on the sandwich.
Sandwiches come “dressed,” which means they are topped with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles.
Sandwiches start at about $4 for an 8-inch smoked sausage and range to about $16 for a 16-inch soft-shell crab po’boy. Most 8-inch sandwiches fall in the $5 – $9 price range.
Those who don’t eat meat won’t be left out. A full salad bar with two types of lettuce, cucumbers, eggs and other toppings will be offered, and a po’boy sandwich with a vegetable patty will be on the menu.
“It was really important for us to have a vegetarian and vegan option,” Zena Crawford said.
A double-roasted beef sandwich is the most complex sandwich, Eric Crawford added. The meat is baked for three hours, then eventually shredded, and beef gravy is poured over it in a process called “debris cooking”. It all then goes back in the oven for another three hours of baking.
But the meat isn’t what makes the sandwich authentic.
“When people hear about a New Orleans po’boy, the first thing they want to know about is the bread,” Eric Crawford said.
Unable to find a supplier that makes the French baguettes to the perfect consistency for a po’boy, he took matters into his own hands and bakes the bread on-site. While he said it isn’t exact, it’s close enough so even those familiar with the real deal will be happy.
Zena Crawford said the restaurant – which will be open from 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. – will have an all-you-can-eat cereal bar, with a bowl running $2.60. Twenty-four pastries will also be available, including beignets, brownies and cookies, and a full range of Seattle’s Best coffee will be available.
All pastries are made in-house, and cereals will include Captain Crunch, Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Special K, Apple Jacks and Fruit Loops.
Waffles, sausages and grits are available for breakfast as well.
Soft-serve ice cream and milkshakes are served as well, and she said ice cream sundaes will likely be available in the summer.
“Anywhere you go in New Orleans, you can get a beignet and a coffee,” Eric Crawford said. “We want to be a part of the community. We’re here at the gateway to Oak Park, and it’s going through a change we want to be a part of.”
Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Darnell.